The Van Vleck House & Gardens dressed up on Tuesday, June 20, as dozens of seniors from Montclair High School arrived wearing their prom outfits. The gardens welcomed the seniors, their families and friends for a pre-prom celebration from 4 to 6 p.m.
The architecture and blooming plants provided an ideal setting for the Class of 2023 to reunite, take pictures and preserve the memories of the seniors’ big celebration before heading to prom.
“I am very excited; I am just glad it’s over,” senior Isabel Ginns said about celebrating prom and finishing high school. Ginns shared that she will attend Tufts University in Massachusetts and play field hockey there.
“They’re just lucky that they’re going to college and have a normal experience and like the kids, too,” said Jennifer Johnson, mother of a student in the Class of ’23, whose students were in ninth grade when New Jersey schools were forced to operate remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “She might have done chemistry from her bed, but at least she’s going to have a real college experience,” Johnson said of her daughter.
Many of the seniors dispersed in mid-May when they joined the Community Internship Program (CIP), in which they gained “real world” experience by interning for five weeks with local companies, government, faith-based organizations, schools or other community entities within a 50-mile radius of Montclair High School.
“The classes are looking for opportunities to come together,” said Sarah Otazo, a volunteer at the pre-prom event.
“The idea of having this time and having prom together and rehearsal this morning, it’s all about just having those precious moments,” Otazo said. “They’re all becoming more precious moments now.”
As part of the event, the Montclair police closed Van Vleck Street between North Mountain and Upper Mountain avenues. The street was reopened around 6 p.m., when the event ended and the seniors headed Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park for the prom.