ST. ALBANS CITY — After a year of isolation, distance, and a rapid evolution into the world of online learning, high school seniors were told they wouldn’t be able to look forward to mainstays like prom, homecoming and the senior parade.
But the St. Albans community wasn’t going to let its beloved seniors fly the coop without a send-off, and one day of honor quickly multiplied into an entire week of fun.
“Our seniors needed something really special,” said MaryEllen Tourville. “It didn't look like they were going to get anything this year. (So we thought) What can we do to make their week something special?”
To that end, the school community rented the Spirit of Ethan Allen to parade seniors around Lake Champlain on June 9 from 1:45 to 5:30 p.m. to enjoy food, drinks, karaoke, photographs, music and green and gold BFA regalia.
But after a wishlist for the upper class was created and published, Tourville and the other teachers realized they were far from alone in wanting to celebrate their seniors. Organizers soon found their plates overflowing with donations from every corner of the city, including cupcakes, dresses, materials or miniature horses.
One day simply wouldn’t be enough to fit it all. Here's a look at seven events in store for students on BFA Senior Week:
The week of events launches Saturday, June 5 with PromFire, an outdoor twist on the traditional prom featuring a tent, dance floor, a huge bonfire, glow sticks and their very own disc jockey Pat Souris.
While prom is normally $40 per ticket, this year both juniors and seniors will be allowed to attend free of charge.
“It was tough back (when COVID first hit),” said senior Zach Lovejoy. “I’m on the student council, and the junior class plans the prom. So we spent three years planning and organizing, and then you blink your eyes and everything you worked for is cancelled.”
The guidance department created a drive for all things formal attire for seniors to choose from.
2. Break Out to the Bay
Seniors will be allowed to drive their cars right up to BFA in preparation for that afternoon’s car parade Monday, June 7. After their dismissal at 2 p.m., seniors will get to pull from a cache of donated decorations like car paint, streamers, balloons and window paint to customize their ride for a parade to the lake at 2:30 p.m. — complete with an escort by the St. Albans City Police Department, Tourville said.
“This is well overdue,” Lovejoy said. “I think the car parade would be such a fun tradition to start. One of the mottos at BFA is 'tradition never graduates.'”
The car parade ends at the St. Albans Town Bay Park, where seniors will find a festival waiting for them: shaved ice, music, beach games, miniature horses, fried dough, henna tattoos and much more.
3. Park Pizza Party
After receiving their caps, gowns and yearbooks Tuesday, June 8 at 10:30 a.m., all BFA seniors are invited to Taylor Park for pizza, refreshments, a “Wall of Fame,” music, yearbook signing and even some magic — Tourville said there will be a magician performing tricks.
The Spirit of Ethan Allen Cruise launches at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 9 from Burlington, where seniors will be able to party until 5:30 with their friends — many of whom they haven’t seen in a long time.
“I’ve already been making plans with my friends, deciding who is going to drive to the cruise, and I’ve already picked out my suit for the dance,” Lovejoy said. “I’m excited. It's a great way to be sent off into the future.”
5. Outdoor Movie Night
From 8:30 to 11 p.m. on Thursday, June 10, the BFA Boosters are setting up an outdoor movie night with popcorn and a wide-open snack bar at the Collins Perley Complex, and seniors are encouraged to wear their senior T-shirts to the event.
6. Last Licks
Seniors are invited to the Collins Perley Complex for graduation rehearsal at 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 11 before a 4:30 p.m. celebration of cake, ice cream, games, gifts, and free professional group and family photos.
Graduation lineup begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 12 at the Collins Perley Complex, and the ceremony begins at 11 a.m.
Lovejoy said the announcement to have the senior week was the first time in a long time that he and his friends had been able to gather in an auditorium.
"It feels like a surprise party," Lovejoy said. "It's so much more exciting to know something is happening but not know what."