For many in the graduating classes of 2024 and 2025, something major was missing from their high school experience: prom. Going to high school during the pandemic meant that, for many current juniors and seniors at GC, one of their proms was canceled just weeks before it happened.

This past weekend, they had an opportunity to get that experience, as Goshen College’s Campus Activities Council hosted a prom in downtown Goshen.

“Something that the senior class this year didn’t get was a prom our senior year [of high school],” said Cassidy Cwiertnia, a senior and CAC member. “So prom felt really, really necessary and beneficial.”

Two years ago, CAC held a prom event in the Recreation-Fitness Center on campus. But CAC, and resident director Kevin Schultz, had other ideas for this year.

“Kevin had an idea to have it downtown,” said Antoinette Mpawenayo, senior and CAC member. “He was telling us how the downtown people [and businesses] want to be more connected to Goshen College students.”

Along with the Student Senate, CAC took a trip with Schultz to visit the Goshen Theater’s ballroom a month ago to decide if they should use the space for the event. Cwiertnia said, “When we walked in, we knew.”

CAC’s next task was to create a theme. Last semester, the group had held discussions about Kick-Off, the fall talent and variety show. CAC eventually decided on “disco” as the Kick-Off theme, but it had come down to either that or “Rio.” Mpawenayo said that she had really wanted Rio to be the theme, although disco “ended up being really good.”

“I chose Rio,” she said, “because I’ve heard many people have trouble choosing, ‘oh man, what color do I wear for this event? And Rio was just a beautiful amount of colors, like any color you want.”

But it wasn’t just the colorful theme and the venue that CAC chose; the leaders also wanted to make sure that the students were well-fed. So after sampling numerous restaurants downtown, they settled on “Wholesome Tortilla,” a local Mexican restaurant that opened last year, to provide tacos at the prom. The final piece was music — for which CAC hired a professional DJ.

Annika Alderfer Fisher, a senior sociology and art major, attended prom with a group of friends. “I was impressed that CAC chose to host an event off-campus,” she said. “I think it made it more exciting for students, and made the event more attractive than it would have been if it had been held in the RFC and the music center.”

Between the venue, the catered food and the professional DJ, Alderfer Fisher said that prom was “one of my favorite CAC events I’ve been to.”

Cwiertnia was pleased with the positive feedback.

“I find a lot of joy … I think all of us on CAC do, in making other people’s experiences better,” she said. “Sitting in the Frott, we’ll catch people talking about it or, you know, it’s buzzing in the air, and it just feels so good to know somebody appreciates it.”