BARNEGAT, NJ – Barnegat’s Class of 2020 had every intention of pulling off the perfect prom. The committee planned for everything, with one exception. No one counted on a pandemic shutting down the gala event. Leave it to a group of moms to spring into action. It took them just one week to create a senior prom that was a mini version of the real thing.

Meredith Jackstadt’s son, Griffin virtually graduates from Barnegat High School this week. He is off to the University of Pennsylvania next year, where he will join the football team. As exciting as that sounds, Meredith wishes her son’s senior year did not finish quite the way it did.

“Other moms I spoke with found themselves in the same position,” said Meredith. “Among other things, we all felt badly that our children would be missing out on their senior prom.”

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The group of mothers went back and forth in a series of text messages. It was fruitless to challenge the district’s decision to cancel the prom scheduled for May 29th.   Instead, they came up with an alternative. Meredith volunteered her backyard and the moms each took on a special part in the process. Even though it was just a week away, they agreed to stick with the original prom date.

With the prom venue already decided, the guest list was the next issue. Initially, Governor Phil Murphy had placed a cap on outside gatherings to just ten people.  Meredith says she and the other mothers were relieved when the limitation was raised to 25 allowed outdoors together.  Ultimately, a total of fifteen students attended the backyard prom. A small number of parents chaperoned from Meredith’s front yard.

The Mom Prom Committee managed all the usual checklist items. They chose a Starry Night theme and even had favors made to commemorate the event. The mothers made sure there was dance music and arranged for a professional photographer. Stacey Earl Fahringer, owner of Photography by Stacey, captured their memories in traditional prom fashion.

“Most of the girls had their gowns already,” Meredith shared. “I think one borrowed a dress and another did curbside pickup.”

The boys were not able to rent tuxedos, which did not stop them from dressing up for their senior prom. Some turned to Amazon or did curbside with Target and Kohls.

All the parents brought food and worked together to keep things safe. They avoided the risk of cross-contamination with throw away utensils. Hand sanitizer became a prom staple.

Priscilla Pitiak came to the prom as Griffin’s date. The two have been a couple for a little more than a year.  It seemed logical that they would go to the senior prom together. However, no one could have predicted the change in venue.

“It was really nicely done,” said Priscilla, who enters her freshman year at the University of Michigan in September. “Everyone did such a great job putting it together. I’m very thankful for how nice they made it for us.”