COVID-19 Heroes: At Spangdahlem, the Prom Must Go On

Spangdahlem High School seniors Dallin Weyland and Andrea Mercado wear crowns after being voted prom king and queen by their Exchange co-workers.

First sports, then class, then prom.

One by one, Spangdahlem High School students saw the pillars of normal high school life fall as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed.

But on April 25—the original date of their senior prom—nine students working at the Spangdahlem Exchange food court and Express Popeyes donned their formal wear and posed for pictures for a small taste of the prom-night experience.

It wasn’t quite the same—students had to wear protective face masks, keep at least 6 feet of physical distance and limit prom-like activities to before and after work and during scheduled breaks—but it was a welcome moment of normalcy after more than a month away from school.

“Being away from our friends this long is a bit taxing mentally because we are used to going to school and having those day-to-day interactions,” said Subway associate and Spangdahlem High School senior Andres Mercado. “This let us have a moment that we probably wouldn’t have had otherwise, especially those of us who already purchased clothing for our prom.”

Students wore face masks along with their tuxedos and evening gowns.

Sporting specially made “Class of Quarantine 2020” face masks, the students cast ballots for prom king and queen, dined on hors d’oeuvres and received on-the-spot awards for continuing to serve those who serve during the pandemic. They even enjoyed a brief, albeit physically distanced, dance.

“The dining rooms are empty, so we put on some music and turned it into a dance floor for about five minutes,” said Food Court Manager Michelle Hetcher. “We ordered crowns online, so the king and queen wore them on the line during their workday. Everyone had lots of fun, and they all did great work.”

Hetcher said she, Food Court Assistant Manager Hermine Schroeder and Food Court Foreman Frankie Coogan came up with the idea when the students, who were originally going to take the day off for prom, were scheduled for work on April 25 shortly after the prom was canceled.

“The girls already had their dresses, but no reason to put them on,” Hetcher said. “Even though things are tough right now, we wanted them to have the opportunity to get dressed up and get their photos taken. I think being able to do that on the same day they would have gone to prom was very meaningful to them.”

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