(TAMPA, FL) — Tampa’s Middleton High School is taking a first step in the right direction. The school is hosting the homecoming dance amid a steep decline in COVID-19 cases.
After last year’s social events like homecoming and prom were canceled, Middleton’s Student Government Sponsor Lauren Salamon helped make this year’s dance safer, following district guidelines like permission slips, renting air filters for indoor locations, and encouraging outdoor areas when possible.
“Our kids have been at home for a year and a half,” said Salamon. “It has impacted their ability to socialize, not just with friends but with adults.”
Students like Kiersten Wargo, a junior at Middleton High School, have been waiting a long time for this moment after several big milestones had to be scrapped. When Kiersten got COVID nearly two months ago, this night seemed like an impossible dream. She even delayed dress shopping until closer to the event.
But this rite of passage, finding that perfect dress, was the kind of moment she needed to kick of her homecoming weekend. “It made me feel pretty,” she said, as she swayed showing off her swishy new skirt.
However, Kiersten’s boyfriend Daniel, a Middleton alumnus, had to cancel due to a non-COVID-related illness. He sent frequent text messages during the night as Kiersten danced with her friends.
“If I’m being completely honest, I feel like we’re acting as if the pandemic is not a thing today,” said Kiersten. “It’s a really good break from reality for a lot of the students.”
While the nation continues to fight COVID, students in Tampa finally had their chance to be a little bit more like traditional high school students rather than pandemic survivors.