Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students all over Long Island (and the rest of the world) have faced more than a year of uncertainty when it comes to their schooling, dances, and graduation ceremonies, but Bellport High School seniors had cause to celebrate when their senior prom was held at Sunset Harbour in East Patchogue on June 11.
“We’re excited to finally have something for the seniors,” said Emma Cottone, a senior dressed in a long, baby-blue sequined gown with matching sequined mask. Cottone was flanked by nearly a dozen friends, who all shared a similar sentiment: “We’re just happy to be here, together.”
Last year’s Bellport High School seniors, like graduating students across the nation, did not have traditional proms or graduation ceremonies.
“I didn’t have my prom, so it’s cool to be able to see the next year’s class have theirs,” Isaiah Jones, who graduated from the high school amid the 2020 pandemic and now works as a waiter at Sunset Harbour, said.
Originally, the prom was set to take place on campus, outdoors, in the high school’s courtyard, according to Timothy Hogan, principal of Bellport High School, part of the South Country Central School District. Once social-distancing measures began to lift, plans were reevaluated.
“With the help of parents, we secured this location,” Hogan said of the Sunset Harbour venue, a catering hall with views of Patchogue Bay.
One such parent is Jennifer Messina, who works as a manager at Sunset Harbour and whose son is currently a junior at the high school.
“It’s a good feeling and they deserve it,” Messina said of watching the seniors walk into the venue smiling, dressed in their gowns and tuxedos. “I’m happy everything came into place. They missed out on so much, these kids. They deserve the opportunity to dress up, have fun and enjoy their last few weeks of school.”
In total, 198 students were scheduled to attend the prom. All students were required to either provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR or rapid COVID-19 test in order to attend; only students from Bellport High School were allowed at the event. This year the high school practiced a hybrid model of learning, with some students on campus and others attending class from home – but all seniors were invited to the prom.
“I am very pleased we are able to offer our senior prom at an outside venue this year. Our class officers, advisors and senior parents have been very instrumental in making this a reality. I am confident it will be a very special and meaningful event for all those in attendance as we approach graduation,” added Hogan.
The seniors are slated to graduate in a ceremony on June 25. There are 349 students in the 2021 Bellport High School senior class.