When it comes to the 2020 Mustang High School prom, officials are falling on the school’s greatest resource — its students.
“Ceremonies and rites of passage are going to look very different,” said Mustang Superintendent Charles Bradley during a live-streamed special board meeting Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate for kids, and it’s unfortunate to parents.”
Prior to Tuesday afternoon, Bradley said, a school closure set in place by the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t set to still be in effect on April 16.
A decree by Gov. Kevin Stitt, however, changed that.
“The governor’s decree eliminates prom as we know it,” Bradley said.
Stitt’s announcement extended the window of school closures through April 30, Bradley indicated.
“Can we put it off until May? If we can, where can we gather?”
Which, Bradley added, meant it was time to get creative.
“Student input will be solicited (in regards to prom),” Bradley said. “I won’t sit here and say, ‘This is what I think prom looks like.’ Students need to have a voice as to what prom will look like.”
Depending on the extent of the coronavirus’s effect on schools nationwide, Bradley said the board may end up having a similar discussion about graduation in May.
“What if the window is extended to May? Now we’re getting into graduation ceremonies,” Bradley said. “We may not have a choice. What does a graduation ceremony look like if we can’t get it?”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding what remains of the 2019-2020 school year, Bradley stressed that he was not ready to call off large events altogether.
“I’m not ready to give up and say this will be the first senior class without a ceremony,” he said. “We’re not ready to do that at all. We just have to unleash the creativity.
“I do believe sometimes, innovation comes out of necessity, so we have to look at things differently.”
Jason Pittenger, assistant superintendent of operations, detailed the district’s plans to expand its meal service for students affected by school closures.
“It’s been a process, to say the least,” Pittinger said. “We went back to what we knew. We looked at the walkout year, and how food service was able to serve students in that capacity during that time, and we used it as the basis to put our plan together.”
Currently, the district offers seven locations as pick-up sites for meals: Trails Elementary School (12025 SW 15 St.), Mustang North Middle School (10901 SW 15 St.), Prairie View Elementary (9201 SW 59 St.), Valley Elementary (3001 S Morgan Road), Horizon Intermediate (430 W. Forester Drive), Mustang Elementary School (400 S. Mustang Road) and Central Middle School (11820 SW 44 St.).
Those seven sites, Pittinger said, served 1,010 meals Monday and 1,876 meals on Tuesday.
Many sites, he added, more than doubled between Monday and Tuesday. Everyone who is served receives two sacks – one with lunch for that day and one with breakfast for the following morning.
But that, Pittinger said, was only Phase 1 of the district’s plan.
“(With phase two) we’ll be able to deliver meals to highly-populated areas, so kids can leave their homes and access food there,” Pittinger said.
Three official Mustang vehicles will travel from location to location, providing students the opportunity to walk up and get food.
Just like at the dedicated sites, the food received will provide that day’s lunch and the following breakfast.
“We want to start small so we can scale up,” Pittinger said.
Bradley noted that lines of communication are open among dedicated sites, and if one location runs out of meals, staff there are able to direct participants to a site that still has meals to distribute.
“If we run out, our plan is not to say, ‘Sorry, we’re out of meals,’ but to send them to the next site,” Bradley said. “We have people calling each other, and we can divert people to the other site.”