Emerging from the pandemic: Waterbury community helps high school seniors look good for prom

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — From remote learning to masking up at school, and everything in between, the COVID-19 pandemic can be thanked for an unusual and sometimes tough school year.

For Kennedy High School senior Emmanuel Yankson, this was his last year in high school.

“Oh it’s been horrible,” he told News 8 Tuesday.

Much of that is because he and his classmates have had a lot of big events taken away from them — like last year’s junior prom.

“Events that we’ve been looking forward to since our freshman year being canceled,” he said.

But, with COVID numbers coming down and vaccination rates so high, the district decided to allow the senior prom this year. It’s on, but it’ll be a citywide senior prom this Friday at La Bella Vista, an elegant Waterbury wedding and banquet venue.

“We’re so proud of them,” said District Spokeswoman Sujata Wycoff. “The way they have navigated this year. The resilience they’ve shown.”

“It’s something I’m super happy about!” Emmanuel said.

And there’s even more good news. The United Way of Greater Waterbury started a fundraiser to help the students get the tuxes and gowns they need to shine on their special night. They collected close to $6,000 helping 56 students, including Emmanuel, get Visa gift cards.

“It shows our community’s heart is still beating even in this tough time,” Emmanuel said. “I just wanna say thank you for donating to this cause.”

News 8 asked if he’s looking forward to prom night.

“This is a big occasion,” he said. “I feel like I can go all out!”

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