STUART, Fla. — A Martin County high school senior doesn’t want to let the pandemic make him miss out on another high school experience.
Eduardo Diaz, a senior at South Fork High School, is planning his own prom without the support of the Martin County School District, but with hundreds of students signed up to attend.
“I’ve always wanted a prom,” Diaz said. He also couldn't go to prom as a junior because of COVID-19 safety concerns. The school district decided not to host a traditional prom this year.
But new pushback from parents and some students is adding to the challenge of pulling it off, according to Diaz.
Diaz has managed to secure a venue, DJ, and catering for the event later in March. But previous plans at a different venue with a different caterer were canceled, Diaz said, because of community pressure.
“A lot of people who were concerned were contacting the businesses we were working with to stop this from happening. That included caterers, the first venue we secured,” Diaz said.
He said he expected controversy and planned for COVID-19 safety precautions. “We have the temperature check, the masks. This is an outdoor venue so it’s plenty of space for us to be safe.”
He said he is frustrated about the resistance to his event when other large events have been held in the community.
“They go to the fair, they go to the air show, the boat show,” Diaz said. “There’s always this contradiction of what we can do and what we can’t do.”
When State Representative Toby Overdorf got word of the pushback Diaz was receiving, he said he offered Diaz his support.
“We’re reaching out to him and doing whatever we can to help him,” Overdorf said, also praising Diaz for using the event to raise scholarship money. “At some point, we need to be able to celebrate these young folks and have that milestone for them,” Overdorf said.
“We are aware there is a prom celebration being planned in the community,” said Jennifer DeShazo, spokeswoman for the Martin County School District.
The Martin County School District said it has other events planned for seniors in lieu of prom.
“We came up with our senior celebrations with input from our senior class in school. Each school is doing something different,” DeShazo said.
Diaz said he just wants to be able to hold his preferred senior celebration without further roadblocks.
“If you don’t agree with him, then don’t have your child go to the prom,” Overdorf said.