Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from Tina Bodden, an organizer for Magnolia West High School's prom event.
Parents and community members in Magnolia have come together to help give Magnolia and Magnolia West High School seniors a prom.
Jennifer Goebel, a parent and organizer of the Magnolia High School prom, said students have not been able to see each other since before spring break.
“Most of these kids have been together since kindergarten, and I just felt it was wrong [for them to not see each other],” she said.
Goebel originally began organizing a Magnolia High School prom; however, she had heard from many Magnolia West High School parents that wanted to do the same for their students.
“I was contacted by some ladies at Magnolia West High School, and they asked, ‘Will you help us?’” she said. “Basically, we shared everything we could possibly share, from insurance to table rentals.”
Goebel said the planning for both proms has been a collaborative effort between parents from both schools.
Both proms will take place at the Magnolia Rose Event Center, on June 11 for Magnolia High School and June 12 for Magnolia West High School.
As both schools will use the same venue, decorations will be shared and left up for both schools.
The event center, which is near completion, is owned by Jimmy and Debbie Thornton, who donated the space for both proms.
“We originally planned to open a couple months from now,” Jimmy Thornton said. “When they approached us about this, I called all my contractors and said, ‘Guys, I need your help,’ and everyone stepped up.”
Through monetary and in-kind donations, the event will be free to all seniors that wish to attend.
“We’ll have [seniors] vote for a prom king and queen. We [will] have a photo booth and a professional photographer and dinner,” she said.
Goebel added there will be yard games, a DJ and s'mores for attendees. There will be plenty of outdoor activities to allow for social distancing.
In order to keep seniors and chaperones safe, various protocols will be followed, from only having six people per table, performing temperature checks prior to admittance and providing hand sanitizer stations.
“The venue far exceeds the number of people it can hold, so that our percentages stay low,” she said.
Magnolia High School has already gotten 300 RSVPs for the event, which Goebel said is more than the normal prom would receive.
“I think it comes from two parts: The kids haven’t seen each other, and prom is very expensive. And we have provided an opportunity to have dinner and dance at no cost,” she said.
Tina Bodden, a parent and organizer for Magnolia West's prom, said 175 students have responded and registration will continue to be open until the event.
"It has been pretty amazing; everybody has been willing to step up and help these kids out," she said.
Bodden said Magnolia West students will also receive a wooden 'M' that will serve as a yearbook to sign names and messages to fellow students at the event.
Goebel said with the amount of in-kind donations received, the organizers had extra funds they had originally planned to spend on the event.
“We are giving away 20 scholarships, and with so many donations of services, we were able to not pay for a lot of the things we thought we had to pay for.” she said.
Scholarships will be drawn out of a hat, and students will receive a $250 life scholarship from a donor. Goebel said this could help students who might not go to college or who need some money to buy tools or books.
“I can’t tell you how wonderful Magnolia has been and how proud it makes me of my town,” she said.