Sporting “Class of Quarantine 2020” face masks, nine military teens who are employees of the exchange food court at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany wore their prom finery to work recently, on the day when they should have been going to their prom.
The students kept at least six feet apart, and limited prom-related activities to before and after work and during scheduled breaks, according to a press release from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. It’s one example of creative ways that those in the military community as well as civilian community are finding to squeeze a bit of normalcy in the age of coronavirus.
“This let us have a moment that we probably wouldn’t have had otherwise, especially those of us who already purchased clothing for our prom, said Andres Mercado, a high school senior who works part-time for the Subway at the food court.
Students said being able to do a few prom activities at work helped ease some of the disappointment about the cancellation of the event due to coronavirus concerns.
“Even if this wasn’t exactly what I envisioned for prom, it was really nice to come to work and have something to make the day a little less stressful,” said Rebecca Frazier, a senior who works part-time at Charley’s, in the release.
The idea was hatched by food court manager Michelle Hetcher, assistant manager Hermine Schroeder and foreman Frankie Coogan, when the students who were originally scheduled to have April 25 off because of their prom, were rescheduled to work after prom was canceled. “Even though things are tough right now, we wanted them to have the opportunity to get dressed up and get their photos taken,” Hetcher said.
The students cast ballots for prom king and prom queen, dined on hors’ d’oeuvres and had a brief but physically distanced dance in the food court dining area.
“Prom is such an important part of the high school experience, and while we can’t change the current circumstances, we can bring them a measure of normalcy during this exceptionally challenging time,” said Col. Scott McFarland, the AAFES Europe/ Southwest Asia commander, stated in the release. “These students aren’t just our associates, they are a part of the military community we serve. This is exactly what we mean when we say the exchange is ‘family serving family.’ “
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.