PORTLAND, Ore —
The pandemic has changed so much for high school seniors, with most big events like prom not happening in-person. But Portland Public Schools is getting creative, with a new way for seniors to celebrate on Thursday night.
They're calling it "Oregon's first ever virtual prom." Seniors can join from home, dance to music, see appearances from special guests, and engage with their friends on social media the whole time.
"Virtual prom is intended to be the ray of sunshine that peaks through the clouds, even though the storms are raging," said Camille Idedevbo, Corporate & Foundation Relations Officer for Portland Public Schools. "So it’s intended to be a community celebration, some sense of normalcy for students who were looking forward to all sorts of senior celebrations, prom, so it’s hopefully going to be a fun night."
School closures months ago, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, happened so fast, but PPS still wanted students to feel celebrated.
"Senior celebrations - or celebrations in general - are important given normal circumstances, and with this event, we just wanted our students to know that, 'Hey we are thinking of you,' and we are trying to be as creative as possible to salvage those opportunities to do something really meaningful."
All PPS seniors have been invited to participate, but since it will be streamed online, technically anyone can watch and tune in from the comfort of their home.
“It’ll be a live stream, thanks to DJ O.G. One," said Idedevbo. "So we’ll have some really great music, we’ll have a few special guests either popping in or sharing words of encouragement, as well as a number of giveaway prizes. So definitely something to look forward to for our students, that’s for sure."
DJ O.G. One is the official DJ of the Portland Trail Blazers. He will host the virtual prom out of the White Eagle Saloon, while everyone else watches online.
"I’ve never done a virtual prom," said DJ O.G. One. "So I'm there's going to be some people bobbing their heads, some people that are dancing."
While he won't be able to see the students while he DJs the event, he's hoping they have a great time.
"I’m looking just really to create, from a DJ standpoint, create some ambiance where students are able to enjoy, in the comforts of their home or wherever they might be tuned in," said DJ O.G. One. "I think it’s more about them being able to have an experience that is for them, they know it’s for them, it's about them, so just validate how important they are and what they've done up until this point."
Throughout the party, there will be special guests, and opportunities for students to win prizes through giveaways on Instagram.
Students have submitted song requests in advance to DJ O.G. One, so he can prepare playlists for Thursday night.
What will the top song request be?
"I have no idea," said DJ O.G. One. "But I’m ready, I’m ready and I know they’re calculating some lists for me, and I’m curious to see how wide of a range of choices they’re gonna pick. But again, DJing is a service business, and it's about them.”
And what about what to wear?
"However you would show up to prom, do that that night," said PPS' Idedevbo. She says that includes full-on tuxedos and ball gowns, or your pajamas.
The party starts Thursday night at 7 p.m. Watch the live stream on the Portland Public Schools' YouTube channel.