If you’ve been looking for a genuinely heartwarming story today, you’ve found one, friend. Seven-year-old Curtis Rogers is the gem we all need right now.
When his nanny’s prom was canceled, Curtis came up with a pretty amazing idea: He wanted to host a prom for her in his own backyard. He even came up with his own version of a “promprosal,” complete with a sign. While his nanny of a year, 19-year-old Rachel Chapman, was participating in a class of 2020 parade in her neighborhood, Curtis went over to her house. When she came back, she found him in her front yard, holding a sign that read, “Mini Prom isn’t today but will you go on Monday?”
His mom, Elissa, says that he came up with the idea all by himself. “He came up with the slogan. He’s a pretty creative kid and really wanted to make sure everything was perfect.”
And it worked: Curtis told Today, “She said yes to our mini prom and she came over two days later.”
Curtis picked out his own outfit for the prom and was truly dressed to impress. He opted for a navy checkered tuxedo complete with a purple bow tie, the latter of which coordinated perfectly with Rachel’s light purple dress. Curtis also held a red pool noodle when he greeted Rachel, so they could continue to practice safe social distancing.
The pair then went to the backyard, where a table was set with flowers, place settings, and Rachel’s senior class photo. They ate their favorite foods: apple slices and peanut butter, Chick-fil-A, and smoothies.
Rachel told Today, “It was really sweet. He even got my favorite drink and sauce. He remembered it all.”
Curtis even set up his own playlist, which included songs from both Moana and Frozen. Rachel added that the prom was extra sweet because “It made me feel special because it showed me he really cared.”
Rachel and her classmates definitely aren’t the only high schoolers who are missing out on many of their favorite traditions this year. The New York Times recently spoke with 10 teenagers about what they’ve missed out on this year, and how they feel about it. Seventeen-year-old Olivia Mathews said, “There’s been so many tears, but I guess the best thing that’s helped me get through it is that I’m not alone. Every senior in high school in the world right now knows how I feel, so that makes the pain a little easier to deal with.”
Aaliyah Flores-Pliego, who attends an all-girls school, was especially looking forward to the event.
“At an all-girls school, prom is a really big deal, because we’re able to pick out a boy, and we can meet everyone’s boyfriends or guy friends. I was planning on taking this guy that I’m talking to, and we’re just really great friends. Who knows! What if we end up getting married, and we didn’t end up going to prom together? Anything could have happened on prom day.”
Trey Hepburn, who is 18, said that he was really hoping for an extra-special night. “I was actually hoping that I would get prom king. I’m a likable person. I don’t treat anyone any different than how I would treat my family. In my head, I was thinking, I’d be dancing with somebody, and then the music stops and they announce it, and as soon as they do, everyone starts cheering and chanting my name. It would have been really cool.”
And Sunny Yang shared how it feels to miss out on what many consider to be a penultimate high school experience. “I’m an immigrant from South Korea. I came here for high school. I tell my Korean friends that prom’s a big deal because it’s the last day that you can actually enjoy whatever you want to do before you graduate high school. I had the Disney Channel in Korea, and all the high school movies always had a prom. I wanted to have that experience at least once.”
One student, Ty McSweeney, noted that he feels like he isn’t really getting the experiences he needs to move ahead. “I’m not getting that experience to feel like I’m moving on in life. My life is just waiting for me, but I can’t leave the house. In time, I’m going to get over it. But looking back, if I have kids or something, they’ll be like, ‘Whoa, you were alive during this point,’ so that’ll be kind of cool.”
Some schools are hoping to reschedule their events, instead of flat-out canceling them. In Massachusetts, Holyoke High School principal Stephen Mahoney explained that he understands why the prom matters so much to a lot of teens. “Holyoke is a city of really proud tradition. Most homes in Holyoke have one to three generations of Holyoke High graduates. It’s a big, big deal. And it should be. It’s a huge rite of passage for young people as they move on into adult citizenship.”
He added that he hopes his students will get their experience. “You don’t want to forget that life is beautiful, and that there are beautiful moments that people who work hard deserve to celebrate their achievements and accomplishments. And we want to make sure that our kids get that.”