After it was announced in March that there would be no “official” school proms in Hawkins County this year due to the COVID-19 crisis, concerned citizens on both sides of Hawkins County began planning their own “unofficial” proms.
The goal was to give graduating seniors at both main high schools an opportunity to enjoy a somewhat normal prom experience despite these abnormal times.
Earlier this week the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen informally agreed to close Main Street and Depot Street at Town Square on the evening of Friday, July 17, for an outdoor prom for Cherokee High School seniors and juniors utilizing all four corners of Town Square.
The Cherokee prom was launched thanks to Jim’s Service Center owner Scott Laster, who offered to donate $1,000 if someone else would organize the event. Subsequently, Alderman Mark DeWitte, Cherokee student council president Cooper Bolton, and Class of 2020 mom Pam Jenkins jumped on the bandwagon and approached the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen with their idea last month.
On Tuesday, the BMA approved the July 17 event as long as organizers meet the same requirements that would be required of any other private organization hosting a downtown festival/parade — such as establishing set hours for the event, providing security/EMS coverage, and having the event insured.
A BMA committee will meet with organizers to make sure those requirements have been met before the permit is officially issued.
Meanwhile, a group in east Hawkins County led by retired McPheeters Bend Elementary School reading interventionist Christina Bellamy organized a Volunteer High School prom for Saturday, July 18, at the recently constructed Sayrah Barn-Performance and Event Venue, located at 4144 Highway 11-W in Surgoinsville.
“When the school announced there would be no prom I talked to my husband and said we need to do something,” Bellamy told the Times News on Wednesday. “He asked his friends Rick and Joyce Smith to call me about the barn. Their daughter, Megan Lawson, is the owner, and she and Joyce called me the next day. They offered the venue free of charge, so I started planning. Megan Lawson of The Sayrah Barn is donating the venue. My husband Jeff and I have paid for the DJ and photographer.”
The VHS prom is for seniors only, and one date/guest, and admission is free, but attendees are asked to RSVP at the event’s Facebook page. There is a link to that Facebook page in the online version of this article at www.timesnwews.net
Also on the event page is a list of businesses that will be offering discounts to VHS students on prom night.
“Lisa Mann will be doing the decorating,” Bellamy added. “She is amazing. We have so many people in the community that have really stepped up to make this a great night for the seniors.”
Among the sponsors helping make the VHS prom possible are The Sayrah Barn; Church Hill Food City; Food Lion; Shon Flanary at CASVA Farms; Aaron Flanary at the Whistle Stop Market; Sharon McClellan, Super Party; RidgeCharles DJ & Photography; and Jeff Belamy at Bellamy Farms.