At the Ivy Street School in Brookline, prom was held celebrating the end of a difficult year.
Like all students, those at Ivy Street had to deal with remote learning, isolation and pandemic-related anxiety.
Mariah Carr, 20, said many of the changes due to COVID-19 were challenging.
“It’s been hard wearing masks and not being able to talk to people,” Carr said. “My least favorite part of COVID was definitely being apart from people that I love.”
The Ivy Street School serves students up to the age of 22 with a variety of learning and behavioral differences.
Executive Director Brandon Cardet-Hernandez said like so many others, his students are having trauma responses every day.
“No one could have prepared them for what they were about to experience last year,” Cardet-Hernandez said. “Also, no one’s able to prepare them for what they’re about to experience now, which is starting to recenter themselves in a world that’s opening back up.”
To make this year’s prom extra special, the school put out a request for gowns and suits.
Stephanie Fidel and Suzzane Kaitz, volunteers on the school’s board of directors, jumped into action.
Kaitz reached out to friends. Fidel posted an appeal on social media.
“I had so many dresses coming to me, (I) couldn’t fit them in my car,” Kaitz said.
“Not only did we have offers of dresses,” Fidel said. “Someone volunteered to do seamstress work, someone volunteered to do hair and makeup, someone wanted to come and photograph the event.”
Men’s Warehouse donated suits for the dance.
“All you need to do is ask and people want to do for other people,” Kaitz said.
“In addition to collecting prom dresses, I think we also collected new friends and supporters,” Fidel said. “It really did have the sense of creating community and not just around prom, but with more of a lasting impact.”
“It’s more than prom for our kids, right?” Cardet-Hernandez said. “It’s another opportunity for kids just to have fun and be young and not feel like there’s something wrong or different, but to be celebrated for exactly who they are.”