This Virtual Prom Honors Teens Giving Back

dressed up

Off Their Plate will be throwing the event to honor a group of teens in Boston who donated their prom money to help frontline workers.

As schools across the U.S. remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, many high school students won’t get to attend prom — but one grassroots initiative is making sure that a group of teens in Boston will get theirs.

When it became apparent that they would not be able to have a prom, students at Newton Country Day High School donated their funds for the event to Off Their Plate to help frontline workers and now the initiative is throwing a virtual prom for the group as a way to say thanks.

“If we’re able to get the word out, and if more people are able to hear about Off Their Plate and are able to donate, wonderful,” Bonnie Cao, a founding member of Off Their Plate, said. “But at the end of the day, I think we just wanted to throw a celebration for these teenagers.”

Off Their Plate, which is affiliated with celebrity chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, will be hosting an online dance on Saturday, May 9. The event will be streamed live on YouTube, and tickets are available online through the initiative’s Eventbrite page.

Though attendees can pay as little or as much as they want, the recommended amount is $10. All proceeds will be donated to providing economic relief for restaurant employees and meals for health workers at the frontlines of the Covid-19 crisis.

Helping lead the initiative is a group of high-school volunteers across a dozen different high schools in Boston and New York, who have formed a mini prom committee to support Off Their Plate and get the word out about the prom itself. Cao said one industrious teenager in Staten Island has even started an online bake sale to promote the virtual event and raise money for Off Their Plate.

Even though seniors won’t be able to have the in-person experience, Cao said she still hopes to recreate as many of the beloved prom traditions as possible. The virtual event will be MC’d by Access Hollywood co-host, Sibley Scoles, and will feature surprise appearances from as many as 15 artists, including indie-pop band Smallpools and Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora.

There are also some pre-prom activities planned: Andrew Day, a backstage photographer for New York Fashion Week, will be giving advice on how to take the best prom photos to post on their social profiles, and Maybelline Global Makeup Artist Erin Parsons will be giving some beauty tips for the big night.

But high schoolers won’t be the only ones joining in on the fun. Cao said they have received video submissions from doctors in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles doing Tik-Tok dances that will be featured during the event.

Sarah Shanfield, a New York-based volunteer for Off Their Plate, emphasized that the event is also about celebrating all high school students across the country who are finding ways to give back to their communities. “It’s like they’re thinking outside of the box of ways to contribute beyond just staying home,” she said.

Reporting by senior writer Tess Bonn.

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