We all want material evidence that our labor is worth something, especially if that labor’s been ongoing for several years. Unfortunately for Colorado high school seniors, the coronavirus pandemic has compromised the typical ways that families and school systems honor the achievements of graduating students. Sporting events, dances and graduation ceremonies — all rites of passage that normally take place in person — have since been canceled, postponed or migrated to the virtual realm.
When an experience moves from 3D to 2D, as many have had to do to survive under physical distancing directives, the loss of dimension may register as a lack of luster. (Seeing the Mona Lisa in an online gallery instead of the Louvre lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.) That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing, however, and that doesn’t mean it can’t be a meaningful experience.
That belief is what propelled KGNU Community Radio (88.5 FM & 1390 AM) to host a virtual high school prom for graduating seniors enrolled in Boulder Valley and Denver Public School Districts. The three-hour dance event will begin at 6 p.m. on May 2 and will be part video conference and part live radio broadcast. DJ Erin Stereo, a two-time Westword Best of Denver award-winner, will curate the evening’s beats. KGNU’s own DJ and Denver program manager, “Deeprawk” Dave Ashton, will chaperone.
Though anyone — even non-students — can enjoy the radio program, the video conference is limited to 50 senior couples, and formal dress is required. Students can add themselves and their date to the guestlist on a first-come, first-serve basis using their official school email address by filling out this form. Peers and parents can also nominate graduating seniors for prom royalty through this separate form. An official king and queen will be elected.
Neither district will reopen their schools for in-person classes this academic year, but on March 25, the Boulder Valley School District tentatively rescheduled its high school commencement ceremonies for the week of July 20. At present, Colorado Governor Jared Polis and education officials throughout the state expect that schools will be able to hold in-person classes in the fall with physical distancing measures in place.
This is also a good time to remind prospective listeners that KGNU is an independent local radio station that’s been on the air for more than 40 years, and does not broadcast any commercials. Six full-time staff members and more than 300 volunteers produce and govern the station.
Tune in to KGNU’s “Virtual Prom” at 6:00 p.m. on May 2 at 88.5 FM in Boulder and Denver, 1390AM in Denver, 93.7FM in the Nederland and Ward area, 98.7 FM in Fort Collins and online at kgnu.org.