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Status of Kingsport, Sullivan proms uncertain

Rick Wagner • Apr 9, 2020 at 1:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Will Kingsport and Sullivan County high school proms be merely delayed or never occur because of the coronavirus pandemic?

Dobyns-Bennett High School Principal Chris Hampton said the jury is still out on that question until the closure of Kingsport City Schools ends. And Sullivan County Director of Schools David Cox said the same is true for the county’s four high schools, although he said if proms are held, they would probably be in school gyms as they were decades ago.

The Tennessee Board of Education has set a called meeting at 2 p.m. April 9 to address graduation and other K-12 questions in light of the school closures triggered by the pandemic.

DOBYNS-BENNETT PLANS

D-B’s April 25 prom date at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center was cancelled, D-B and D-B EXCEL students found this out March 20 in an email from D-B Principal Chris Hampton. MeadowView cancelled all events through May.

Hampton recently said the D-B prom is “temporarily on hold until we know more” since the April 25 date “was cancelled by the host venue” and the school system is “trying to reschedule for May but not committing until we know that we are for sure returning to school after April 24.”

SULLIVAN COUNTY PLANS

Sullivan County Director of Schools David Cox said the Sullivan South, North, Central and East proms also are in limbo.

“They’re on hold. Some of them have been impacted by the venues,” Cox said, adding it is simply too early to give a definite answer or even much of a guess.

“We realize how important these milestone events are for kids,” he said.

“We just really don’t know at this point what eventually will happen,” Cox said. “Most likely if the time comes we can hold them, we will host them at our schools. ... Under the kind of orders we’re under now, we just can’t have them.”

Sullivan South Principal Josh Tate last week sent out an email to seniors.

“Our plan was to have the prom on May 9 at MeadowView Conference Center. At this time, we know that MeadowView has cancelled all events through the end of May,” Tate wrote.

“We will do everything possible to have the prom; however, there are many factors outside of our control,” Tate said. “We will not make any further plans to reschedule the prom until we know we can get back into our buildings and gather safely based on the recommendations of our district office and public health officials. Please know that any decision regarding the cancellation of the prom will be taken very seriously and will be a district-wide decision affecting all four high schools and made by our director of schools.”

Sullivan North Principal Josh Davis via email referenced a letter to students he and the two assistant principals sent, dated March 30 and posted on the school’s website.

“Currently, we have rescheduled the prom for Saturday, May 9, from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.,” the letter says. “The venue is unknown due to the current pandemic but we will get you that information as soon as possible (probably closer to the date). We will do everything possible to have the prom; however, there are many factors outside of our control. Please know that any decision regarding the cancellation of the prom will be taken very seriously and will be a district-wide decision affecting all four high schools and made by our director of schools.”

Sullivan Central Principal Mark Foster said via email, “Our original prom date was set for April 25. Oh course, this has been postponed. We have not yet set a tentative date to reschedule because we do not yet know how long the COVID-19 outbreak will continue to affect our schools.”

And at Sullivan East, Principal Andy Hare said he is still hopeful the prom can go on in some form.

“It was first scheduled for April 4 at the Millennium Center but they cancelled due to the ETSU (East Tennessee State University) shutdown,” Hare said via email. “We then moved it to TCAT (Tennessee College of Applied Technology) in Elizabethton to May 9. If we cannot do it then, we will reschedule. We may have to get creative and it not look traditional, but once we get the green light we will provide some avenue for our seniors to get to experience these capstone moments.”

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