Once again, COVID-19 is disrupting end of the year rituals for high schoolers, including their senior proms.
The Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston was supposed to be the location of the Holliston High School Class of 2021 senior prom in May.
“Last year, we didn’t have a prom because the senior prom got cancelled,” says senior Justin Battick. “The Copley was going to be our only prom of our high school career and we were really looking forward to it because it’s a nice place.”
“It’s the aesthetic,” agreed senior Elexa Reiss. “You drive in with your friends, you look out the window, there are lights, you’re in the middle of Boston. It was just going to be awesome!”
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But their hopes for a Copley Plaza prom were dashed as the pandemic restrictions dragged on. In January, class representatives asked the hotel for a refund of their $10,500 deposit, so they could pay for an outdoor event.
“They told us that we were in default of the contract and that we owed them another $30,000 … because we were canceling the event,” says class advisor Karen Carig-O’Neill. “We said we’re not cancelling the event. We said if you can have a COVID guideline event for us, then we will have that. If you can have an outdoor event for us, we are more than willing to do that, but they couldn’t provide that.”
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With indoor gatherings limited to 100 people and a clause in their contract that said it may be terminated if unforeseeable circumstances prevent it from being fulfilled, the students continued to push for a refund.
But after weeks of email exchanges, the class advisor says they came to an impasse.
“They wanted us to promise to have an event there the next year and we couldn’t do that,” says Carig-O’Neill. “My colleague and I, we represent the Class of 2021, we don’t represent the other classes, and all of the decisions are made by the students. So for us to say, yes, keep this deposit from this class and use it for next year’s, we couldn’t do that.”
“After a few months we just sort of lost hope,” says class treasurer Austin Chang, who reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help.
“We were desperate for any type of help to get that money back,” says Chang.
“With COVID, we’ve had to reimagine all of our senior events,” says class president Emily Rivera. “And without that money, it would really limit everything that we could do.”
NBC10 Boston reached out to the hotel to see if the issue could be resolved, and it was. A Fairmont Copley Plaza spokesperson tells us:
Fairmont Copley Plaza has been in conversation with Holliston High School since January 2021 to help manage the cancellation process for their spring prom.
During this time, we presented a number of different options that would benefit both parties. Our goal was always to return the deposit to the class of 2021, once next steps were agreed upon.
In the end, a solution to host a future Holliston High School prom was unable to be reached, however we did grant a full refund.
We congratulate the class of 2021 on their accomplishments during a most difficult year and wish them success as they embark on graduation.
The class was refunded $10,500, which they are using for an outdoor food truck event on their football field.
“We’re very happy that Copley Plaza Fairmont was willing to do this for our students,” says Carig-O’Neill. “They are ecstatic! They’ll have an event for the end of the year, they’ll have their caps and gowns and masks that are going to be decorated for their class, they’ll have a lot of little things that we can provide to make the year end happily for them.”
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