Saturday night, May 16, Aquinas High School hosted its prom for the Class of 2020 in the school parking lot in order to provide a celebration while observing coronavirus safety practices.

Aquinas’ Director of Events and prom coordinator Brandi Williford was happy for the seniors and their families.

“All the seniors are invited tonight,” said Williford.

“The students submitted videos for a prom king and queen, so we will be crowning a king and queen.”

Music and photography were donated by local businesses, according to Williford.

“Tommy and Maria Ramos brought their 1963 Impala and McClaren as bookends for the photobooth,” said Williford.

“After we crown our king and queen, normally that is when the court would dance, but we can’t do that. So, the seniors dedicated a song by Christina Aguilera, ‘I turn to you,’ to their parents. When the song is played, they will dance with one of their parents in front of their car.”

Aquinas Principal Chris Barrow met the seniors at the gate when they arrived at the school.

“We’re really excited about tonight,” said Barrows. “The school is happy to offer a prom to our outgoing seniors. It is a special night for them. This will be a nice closure to their senior year.

As the vehicles arrived at the school, they were welcomed with a gift bag that had horns, glow sticks and a commemorative facemask that was designed by a parent, Christy Munoz. The mask read “AHS Parking Lot Prom 2020.”

“We have a lot of things happening tonight, and we are hoping that the students and their parents will have a great time.”

Falcon junior and ASB president Landon Bonadiman helped plan the event; he was informed two weeks prior to the event to start coordinating the prom.

“I immediately jumped on it,” said Bonadiman. “This is a great way to honor our seniors. To do something for them to show them that we care.

“It’s exciting that we can give the seniors a time to come together and have an improvised prom. I feel for the seniors for not having the chance to partake in many of the senior activities that would normally happen.

“Tonight’s event will be filled with fun festivities. The seniors will be able to spend time with their friends before they go to college.”

With music blaring and balloons waving in the wind, the party got underway at approximately 7:45 p.m.

Quilts with high school memory patches, balloons, banners lights and other decorations adorned the approximately 80 cars that arrived.

Following social distancing protocol, the seniors were required to wear masks and parked their cars every two stalls.

During the event there was a dance contest and a contest for best dressed, where contestants were judged by their cars.

A lighted stencil, or gobo, was projected on a wall facing the seniors.

It read, “Congrats Aquinas High School Class of 2020.” The gobo will be turned on in the evening until June 1.

Falcon senior Sara Duran brought her mother Adriana to the prom.

“I will be going to Grand Canyon University,” said Sara. “My major will be in nursing. I will remember Aquinas as a helpful community.

“Some of my fondest memories were made with my friends at the football games and during the pre-game talking in the locker room before one of my volleyball games.”

“Thank you, Aquinas, for going above and beyond what you had to for us,” said senior Alyssa Santos. “I had fun on the varsity girls’ soccer team in all the four years that I attended Aquinas. I also had a lot of fun in the Adventurers club.”

Santos brought her parents Sonia and Oscar Santos.

Relating to the current global situation, the Santos’ had two signs on their car that read, “PROM The one with the pandemic 2020.”

Santos plans to attend Cal Baptist University with a major in kinesiology.

“I loved going to Aquinas because the teachers cared about their students,” said senior Anthony Alexander La Vour Smith. “Aquinas was like a family environment. I will miss some of my friends.”

Smith will be attending Valley College in the Fall with an emphasis in business administration.

Senior Class President Alexia Rojas was beaming with pride as she stood with her father John Rojas and her mother Karen Scannell.

“The varsity girls’ tennis program helped me form strong bonds with kids of all grades,” said Rojas. “I appreciate the Aquinas community for making the most of our senior year in the midst of the pandemic.”

Rojas will be attending University of San Diego. Her major will be biology.

“I will miss being in the company of amazing friends,” said Falcon Diego Rendevos. “I plan to spread God’s love to my community. Next year, I will be going to California Baptist University.”

Evelyn Atencio was dancing to the Latin sounds of the disc jockey.

“I love the community here at Aquinas,” said Atencio.

“The faculty and staff really cared about the students at the school. I’m glad they gave us a prom.”

“I’m very happy for the seniors at Aquinas,” said Barbara Atencio, Evelyn’s mother. “The school was thoughtful by allowing the students to celebrate their prom and senior year with their AHS family. I wish all the Class of 2020 much success and happiness.”

The evening ended with prayer and confetti cannons.

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