Hillwood High School seniors raise money to host prom outside Davidson County

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — An important milestone for high schoolers is hanging in the balance due to the COVID-19 pandemic: prom. A group of students at Hillwood High School are upset about the district’s COVID-19 restrictions for the event, so they are taking matters into their own hands.

Kayla Peden is the president of her class. She collaborated with fellow student council members to start planning for the big event after being robbed of a junior prom in 2020. Once they presented the plan, they were told it had to be on Hillwood’s campus and couldn’t have dancing or food.

“I was not having it,” Peden said. “We started freaking out we were like ‘wait, why is this your rules or the district’s rules?’ Our principal said ‘I want you to have a prom, but this is the health department telling you this.'”

Metro Nashville Public Schools has since updated their guidelines to allow dancing, but only between dates. The district is allowing grab-and-go food and drink items, not traditional catering.

Hillwood’s principal said it would have to be hosted outside of Davidson County and they took the minor suggestion seriously. The girls started “The Hill Prom Fund” in hopes of raising a few hundred dollars. In just 24 hours, they raised $5,000. Weeks later, it jumped to more than $8,000.

“It’s gone really good and it looks like not only are we going to have a prom, but a better one than what we would’ve had even if it was a normal year,” Peden said.

The school’s principal, staff and fellow classmates have been extremely supportive of their efforts.

“I just know how I feel missing out on everything to me I’m a social butterfly and I love being with everyone,” Peden said. “I think as we reach the end of our high school career, it just becomes more and more important to you to get those last few moments with your friends.”

They are encouraging their class to get the vaccine after becoming eligible earlier this month. COVID-19 safety protocols will still be in place for the event including mask wearing, social distancing and hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue. Prom will be hosted on May 16th just a couple of days before graduation in Fairview. Fairview police will be at the event to help with security.

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