Two signature senior events are returning to in-person formats this year at New Trier High School — but with different looks and locations.
Seniors can attend a one-hour-long, outdoor prom Saturday, May 15, at New Trier’s Winnetka campus and a commencement ceremony for the entire graduating class on Sunday, May 30, at Soldier Field in downtown Chicago.
Both prom and commencement were not held in-person last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The district hopes the return of the events this year brings about a sense of normalcy for seniors ending their high school careers.
“We’re just doing everything that we can to give the seniors the type of experience that you would have in a more typical year,” said Niki Dizon, New Trier’s director of communications. “ … We’re trying to lend as much as a sense of normalcy and to celebrate these milestones in a way that is typical.”
The graduation ceremony will have a capacity limit, Dizon said, noting that New Trier has been working with Soldier Field to determine if it will increase before May 30.
As of publication time, seniors can expect four tickets to the ceremony, a total that does not include one of the tickets allocated for the graduating student, according to the district.
Dizon said four tickets per family is a “little bit less than a normal year,” when the district typically offers between 6-8 tickets, depending on the venue.
Approximately 1,000 New Trier students will be graduating this year, Dizon said.
Safety procedures will be active at Soldier Field, and the district is “still working out all the details but (it) expects that social distancing and masking requirements will be in place.”
The shift in venue will not result in any additional costs for local families aside from $10 parking at Soldier Field.
New Trier’s traditional white dresses and tuxedos will not be required for this year’s ceremony, but students are welcome to “uphold the tradition” if they choose, the school said.
The Record’s request for district-related costs for the ceremony was not fulfilled as of publication time.
Loyola Academy, which enrolls about 500 seniors, is holding its graduation at All-State Arena at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 22. Regina Dominican’s commencement will be held on its Wilmette campus at 9 a.m. May 29, while North Shore Country Day’s will be on its Winnetka campus on June 11.
The on-campus, senior-only prom celebration is set for Saturday, May 15.
To maintain social distancing and adhere to capacity limits, the district is offering two, one-hour time slots (4-5 p.m., 6-7 p.m.) from which students can select.
It’s scheduled to take place outside on the north lawn of the Winnetka campus, where students will be separated into groups of 50 across eight different tents.
“We want students to be able to be with their friends but safely celebrate together,” Dizon said.
A centrally located D.J. will provide music but no food or drinks will be served.
Students will be required to wear masks and they will be asked to participate in the district’s saliva screener program that week. They’ll also need to fill out a COVID-related questionnaire before attending.
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Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.