Zoo Atlanta to Host 2021 Parent-Run Prom


Photo courtesy of Zoo Atlanta.

An image of one of Zoo Atlanta’s many outside event venues (not necessarily the site of Chamblee’s prom).

Shay Martin, Staff Writer

Prom has always been an important night for most high schoolers. For seniors, it is the last big high school event before their graduation. For juniors, it is the first taste they get of the senior experience. Unfortunately, DeKalb County recently announced that for the second year in a row, there will not be a high school prom due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think prom is important for seniors because it’s the last formal event we’ll get before graduation. It’s something we can do to just have fun as a collective class. I also think it’s a great time for self expression because you get an excuse to get dressed up and have a good night with your friends,” said senior Courtney Combs (‘21).

However, this year, prom will be happening for Chamblee seniors and juniors—although not sanctioned by the school. Over the course of the school year, a group of parents planned a prom, dubbed “the Mask-querade Dance,” to be hosted at the Atlanta Zoo on May 16. 

“This happened last year, so the senior class has already missed out on their junior prom and senior homecoming. I think we could all agree prom is a high school milestone, so I think that we should make sure that all students can have that milestone experience,” said Lauren Osselette, one of the parents in charge of the prom committee.

Incidentally, the plan for a parent-run prom started before the school-run prom’s cancellation. When talks of cancelling had only just begun, Chamblee parent Donna Hutchinson was already on the lookout for a potential venue.

“We just wanted to have something in our pocket, and then when the school came back and said, ‘No prom’, instead of being like everybody else looking, trying to find a venue, it really worked in our favor,” said Hutchinson.

The Atlanta Zoo was an easy choice for the committee. The Zoo was enthusiastic about hosting because they, like the parents of Chamblee, wanted students to be able to experience prom at least once. 

“They understood that a lot of counties weren’t doing proms, and they wanted the kids to be able to have a good time and to be able to celebrate as well. They were definitely compassionate towards the kids having a prom,” said Hutchinson. “And so they made it more flexible for us to do that, considering we didn’t really have a budget—I mean, nothing to give upfront.”

Ticket sales are currently going on, selling at $75 until April 30 for both juniors and seniors: after April 30, the ticket price will increase to $100. To comply with social distancing guidelines, there is a limited number of tickets being sold—about 250—and all students attending will be required to wear a mask. 

The committee, knowing how important prom can be, wants all students to have an opportunity to go, which is why they are allowing attendees to donate when they buy tickets: these funds will be given to students who may not be able to purchase their own.

“I think as parents, we probably need the prom too, to be honest. Just to see them happy and just out of their everyday element and into another environment with their friends, and just having fun,” said Hutchinson. “It’s at the zoo, so hopefully we can incorporate some animals into that and have some great music, and some nice little snacks. It’s just a really fun environment, so that’s what we’re trying to do—we’re just trying to make it fun. You aren’t just there to dance, so we’re trying to make an experience.”

Tickets and other important information about the dance can be found on the committee website here.