On April 3, Lakewood Ranch High senior Julia Devecchio put on her white prom dress, complete with silver jeweled neck and back straps.
She did her hair and makeup and went downstairs to meet her uncle, Brad Moyer, who was dressed up as well.
Her aunt, Rene Moyer, grabbed white gardenias from the front of their house as a boutonniere and corsage.
Brad Moyer and Devecchio were off to a quarantine-style prom. They took photos together and picked up Culver’s for dinner because Devecchio’s actual prom, scheduled for April 3 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, was canceled as a result of COVID-19.
“I wanted to go to the prom because it was my senior year,” Devecchio said. “I just decided I was going to dress up.”
Seniors at Lakewood Ranch and Braden River high schools are missing out on their last big moments of high school, such as prom, Grad Bash and awards ceremonies, as a result of schools being closed due to the pandemic. They’re upset their final year of high school isn’t what they planned.
“Just to keep it plain and simple, it sucks,” said Grant Schmid, a senior at Lakewood Ranch High School. “It really does.”
Brooke Martin, a Lakewood Ranch High senior, is disappointed she can’t walk the halls with her friends every day and enjoy many of the final events of the year that now have been canceled.
“If I knew the last day of my senior year was going to be the day before spring break, I would’ve treated it differently,” said Brooke Martin, a senior at Lakewood Ranch High.
Many students look forward to their prom, and this year’s seniors were no exception.
Aqila Patel, a dual enrollment senior at Braden River High School, is originally from the U.K. and had been looking forward to the prom.
“Coming over here, I thought I’d get the whole high school experience with a prom night and a big graduation,” Patel said. “I was looking forward to being with my friends because I am away for most things because I’m dual enrollment.”
Martin had purchased her prom dress and was having it altered. Because COVID-19 caused many businesses to close their doors, Martin hasn’t been able to get her dress back from the business where she was getting it altered.
“I wish I could have it with me right now because a lot of other seniors are still taking pictures in their prom outfits, but I don’t have my dress with me right now,” she said.
Several seniors said they will lose many high school memories that most people cherish all their lives.
“It just makes me sad,” Schmid said. “This isn’t the conclusion I wanted. This isn’t how I wanted high school to end.”
Senior musicians, artists and theater members will miss out on their final performances and showcases if students don’t go back to school.
“It’s the last time I’ll be able to show the work I’ve put in with my whole classes, the bonds that I’ve grown and cherished throughout my high school career,” said Xavier Rosado, a Braden River High senior who participates in the school’s choir, orchestra and theater department.
Grad Bash is a tradition at Braden River High in which 100 seniors go to Universal Studios.
“As someone who’s extremely involved in my high school extracurriculars, it was going to be the last moment of excitement I was going to have with all of my close friends before we all went away to college,” Macias said.
Seniors are hoping graduation ceremonies will not be canceled.
Patel would be heartbroken if graduation is canceled.
“My senior year wouldn’t feel as complete,” she said. “However, I would still feel proud of myself being through 12 years of school. I made it.”