Dances are a big part of the high school experience, but one local high school’s efforts to split their homecoming dance in half in order to comply with COVID safety protocols has students and parents upset.
Students at Oak Park River Forest High School are planning to attend homecoming festivities this weekend, but ticket sales were limited due to the pandemic, and students say they are missing out.
“By the time we realized that the tickets were like on sale, everything was sold out, so it’s kind of bad,” Darya, a OPRF student, said.
“This girl wanted me to go to homecoming with her, now I can’t go with her,” Noa, another student, added.
According to school officials, the dance will be held in an alley space between the parking garage and the school building. Due to capacity maximums, the school is limiting the dance to 1,000 students, and it will be split into two separate events.
The school had explored potentially holding the event at their football stadium, but weight restrictions on the field’s artificial turf rendered that impossible. The school also has another outdoor mall space, but current construction left that unusable as well, according to officials.
All 2,000 tickets to the event sold out, and the school says there is still a waiting list of students who want to attend, something that parents say could have been avoided with more planning.
“The whole school can go to school together, but can’t have homecoming together? It doesn’t make sense,” Jessica, a parent of a student at the school, said.
Katherine Murray-Liebl, another parent, says that parents were willing to make the dance possible to attend for all students, but says the process was rushed.
“Kids have been waiting for this, and this is a public school. This is not a concert that should be selling out, right?” she says.
Officials at the school say they had intended for seniors and juniors to purchase tickets first, but more freshmen and sophomores purchased tickets than upperclassmen.
The school is also limiting the dance to OPRF students only, with no outside guests allowed.