Students from Stuart Overcome Adversity and Hold Own Prom
South Fork HS Senior Eduardo Diaz and FL State Rep. Overdorf
If you want to know what strong, courageous, and determined student leaders look like, have a look at what South Fork High School students are doing in Martin County.
Refusing to be defeated by an unseen virus, students at South Fork High School are holding their own prom. Why you ask? Well, Martin County has been cancelling graduation festivities. The coronavirus pandemic canceled school proms across the county last year and some seniors even made the controversial decision to go outside their school district to hold their own prom.
South Fork High School students dressed sharply as they entered the Mansion at Tuckahoe to attend the prom they planned for themselves Sunday evening. “Everyone is really excited, you know,” exclaimed Eduardo Diaz. “Some try not to show it. But I know deep inside with all the pictures of the limousines, [and] party buses, everyone is having a great time.” Martin County owns the property where South Fork High School students organized this year’s prom on their own.
Students even set up rule so everyone can be as safe as possible at their graduation. Pandemic protocols were in place to enter the venue including wearing a mask and taking temperatures. The theme is enchanted forest.”There’s lots of blankets everywhere, lots of logs, trees, you know, very forest,” said Diaz.
Mansion at Tuckahoe (Credit: WPTV)
Diaz organized Sunday night’s dance after the Martin County School District decided it would not sponsor a prom this school year because of the pandemic. Diaz said he received backlash from some in the community and because the venue is on county property, they were required to sign notarized waivers to attend.
State Rep. Toby Overdorf’s office brought in a notary to help deal with the county adminstrator’s demand for notarized waivers. Representative Oberdorf praised Diaz for raising scholarship money along with holding the senior prom partly outside since this year’s theme was the “enchanted forest.”
“It was important to give the seniors those moments that they deserved to finish out their senior prom. I mean they’ve overcome so much in the past given year and sailed with success in the given year,” said Shannon Chapman, District 83 Secretary.
“It’s just really not a dance. It’s a memory, you know,” said Diaz. “Everyone who has helped out here who is an adult says they still remember their prom from senior year. The best thing about this is that we are building memories as we go.” Diaz even dealt with opposition in school from some teachers and students.
Diaz secure the venue, disc jockey and emcee, and catering for the event. Prior plans at a different venue with a different caterer were canceled, Diaz said, because of community pressure. The Martin County School District claims it will have other activities for the school.
Senior Eduardo Diaz said he expected controversy and planned for COVID-19 safety precautions. “We have the temperature check [and] the masks. This is an outdoor venue so it’s plenty of space for us to be safe.”
“They go to the fair, they go to the air show, the boat show,” Diaz said. “There’s always this contradiction of what we can do and what we can’t do.”
Martin County Sheriff’s deputies were on site to keep the crowd safe. Part of the prom venue was outdoors to help with the COVID-19 safety precautions. There were forty-five (45) volunteers, 10–15 sheriff ‘s deputies, and fencing for the perimeter.
There is hope for the future with student leaders like this.
South Fork High School students host their own prom after coronavirus cancellation (wptv.com)
Treasure Coast school districts decide to cancel prom, work to create alternative celebration for seniors (wptv.com)
Prom pushback: Martin County high school student planning prom without district receiving backlash, pressure to cancel (wptv.com)
State Rep. Toby Overdorf hosting event for students to get waivers notarized to attend Martin County non-district prom (wptv.com)