Bellefonte officially pulls plug on Senior Ball

BELLEFONTE — There will be no dancing for seniors in the Bellefonte Area School District.

On Wednesday, the district officially pulled the plug on the Senior Ball for the Class of 2021. Students, parents and families were notified in an email from Bellefonte Area High School vice-principal Rebecca Michaels.

The email said: “We have made a difficult decision with Mrs. Burnaford (Superintendent), Mr. Fedisson (BAHS Principal) that Bellefonte School District will not be holding a Senior Ball this year because we do not feel that we can do so safely given current health and safety guidelines. If such an event were held and it causes an increase in cases, we run the risk of school shutting down and our seniors losing more memorable events including graduation. It would also impact AP testing, athletics, Keystones, final exams, etc. We understand that other groups may entertain hosting events outside of school. While those groups may host non-school affiliated activities, we are discouraging others from hosting such events during the school year because of the safety of our students and the risk factors associated with large gatherings.”

The Senior Ball was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 8. The cancellation means that Bellefonte will be the only high school in Centre County not having a Senior Ball.

The school district issued the following statement to The Express through high school principal Michael Fedisson:

“The decision to not hold a school-affiliated prom was based on current health and safety guidelines and the fact that Centre County is still in the substantial rate of transmission. We are seeing a significant rise in cases, particularly in our students. A prom format of individuals singing and dancing in close proximity cannot be achieved while still maintaining social distancing. If such an event were held and it causes an increase in cases and quarantines, we run the risk of closing schools with our seniors losing more memorable events like graduation. It would also impact AP testing, Keystones exams, final exams, and other academic, athletic, and extracurricular events for all students. We understand that while some students may be disappointed in this decision, the safety of our students is our first priority. We will continue to offer other memorable senior events that can take place within the guidelines of our district’s health and safety plan and the guidelines from the PA Department of Health and PA Department of Education.”

“To our knowledge, other schools in the area are either also not sponsoring school-affiliated dances or are holding other activities labeled as ‘proms’ that actually resemble other events similar to a class picnic.”

Penns Valley is hosting its senior prom on Saturday, May 15 at the high school stadium. Philipsburg-Osceola confirmed the date of Saturday, June 5 at the Elks in Philipsburg and State College Area High School is hosting its senior prom on Saturday, May 22 at Memorial Field in downtown State College. Bald Eagle Area is also hosting senior prom on Saturday, May 22, though the location has not been announced.

Needless to say, seniors in Bellefonte’s Class of 2021 were upset when they found out that there would be no Senior Ball.

“As class president, usually in past years, we’ve talked with administration, principals, whoever we needed to get stuff done. This year, we have heard nothing at all. Anytime we ask or reach out, we just get told, ‘wait and see … it’s still tentative … it’s a possibility.’ We know it’s not a possibility,” said senior class president Nathan Taylor. “They’re just stonewalling until they cancel the week of. It’s horrible how they’ve played with our hopes and emotions for the past six months.”

Taylor said that the fact that other schools in the area are having proms makes the decision extremely tough to take.

“They tell us, ‘it could still happen,’ then they cancel everything last minute,” Taylor said. “Meanwhile, all the schools around us are having a somewhat decent senior year.”

Senior Bella Corman believes that the Senior Ball could be safely held.

“I really thought our school could pull it together this year. It’s unfortunate that they had a lack of trust in their students to social distance. We’ve been doing it all year. We’ve been put in rows of confinement during lunch and we’ve done every protocol they’ve asked us to do,” Corman said. “We’ve worn masks and followed protocols. I think it’s really sad that our school had no trust in us to have an organized event.”

According to Corman, the students have done their part. Now, she said, it’s time for the school district to do theirs.

“We can wear our masks, we can follow the rules. We know what this entails,” Corman said. “We knew we would lose a lot of things this year. I just never expected it to be our Senior Ball.”


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