This weekend marks the long-awaited return of Newton Prom after a three-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone says it’s super fun,” said Sona Bardakjian, a current Newton resident and MCAS ’25. “It’s like reparations for living on Newton—a time to be able to appreciate the year you had on the [Newton] campus and a kind of final goodbye.”
The carnival-themed prom is set to take place in Stuart Dining Hall’s Yellow Room this Saturday at 8 p.m.
Brendan O’Friel, MCAS ’25, said that Newton Prom is even more significant this year, as many freshmen did not get to experience their high school prom due to the pandemic.
“For me, this prom actually means a lot,” O’Friel said. “Both my junior and senior year proms were canceled due to COVID, so I’ve never experienced the traditional American high school experience of going.”
Though initially students who registered could bring non-Newton residents as a plus-one, on Tuesday, Newton residents received an email stating that, because there was high demand to attend the prom, only Newton residents can now attend. Some Newton students, however, are still on the waitlist.
Brendan McLaughlin, a member of the Residence Hall Council (RHC) for Hardey-Cushing and MCAS ’25, said that RHC’s supervisors informed members in a meeting about a month ago that the Newton Prom would be held this year.
“It was definitely a short notice just because before that we were originally planning to have a different type of end of year event,” he said. “This was probably like early April. And then, you know, out of nowhere, it was kind of like, ‘Oh, we’re switching gears. This is what we’re doing, and we’re gonna put our resources towards this.’”
RHC was informed that the event would be hosted in the Yellow Room, according to McLaughlin.
“We gave our input on ideas and like where it could be, but because of the short notice, you know, places are already booked so you kind of have to work with what you have. Only certain spaces were available, and I think the Yellow Room was kinda like the best place that … could accommodate so many kids.”
Bardakjian—who was initially placed on the waitlist—said the advertisements for the event did not clarify that there were capacity limits.
“It didn’t say anywhere on the flier that they emailed us and that they posted everywhere that there were a limited number of spots,” Bardakjian said. “I just assumed that I could RSVP whenever, but then when I went to click on the RSVP link, it said that there was no room left.”
Bardakjian has since been taken off of the waitlist.
O’Friel said the waitlist disrupted his friends’ plans to attend the prom together since one of them lives on Upper.
“Our original plan was to go as a big group [and] just have fun as a group—now we’re not going to be able to do that together,” O’Friel said.
Beyond Newton Campus residents’ reactions, Emmett Carrier, MCAS ’25, said he is disappointed he can no longer attend the prom as his friend’s plus-one because he lives on Upper Campus.
“I feel a bit upset that I can’t go to the event just because I don’t live in Newton,” Carrier said. “A lot of my friends on Newton are mad that we can’t go, and are now thinking of not going themselves.”
Kate Stone, LSEHD ’25, said she was previously excited to attend Newton Prom.
“I’ve heard [Newton Prom] is really anticipated and looked forward to because everyone mostly had prom back in high school, but you haven’t necessarily had a dance like that with the people you’re in college with,” Stone said.
Stone, however, lives on Upper, so she can no longer attend the prom.
“I feel disappointed that I can’t attend [the] Newton Prom anymore,” Stone said. “I was very much looking forward to attending this event with my friends.”
McLaughlin said he did not expect so many students to sign up, but said the decision to no longer allow plus-ones makes sense since it is a Newton event.
“Had it been planned earlier, or like decided that we were going to host it earlier, we could have maybe had it at a bigger location or allowed for plus-ones and more people to come and things like that,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said he still expects the weekend to be a great experience and a fun night.
“I still think that it’s going to be a great night, and I’m excited to give everyone on Newton a fun end of the year,” he said.
Despite difficulties with the waitlist, O’Friel said he can’t wait to attend Newton Prom.
“I’m excited for, even before the prom, just to take pictures, get ready, [and] just the excitement leading up to it,” O’Friel said.
Siobhan Pender, MCAS ’22, experienced the Newton Prom when it was last hosted in 2019. She recalled the excitement as she and fellow Newton residents got ready for the event.
“I remember everyone in Duchesne got ready at the same time, so we were all just kind of bouncing around to each other’s rooms,” Pender said. “[We were] taking pictures in the hallway, playing music before the prom, and I think that was probably my favorite part.”
Pender said she feels lucky she and her class got to have a Newton Prom before the pandemic seized campus.
“My sister is a sophomore, and she didn’t live on Newton, but her friends did last year, and I just felt bad for them not getting that kind of experience because I feel like it is a unique aspect of living on Newton that you get [since] Upper Campus doesn’t have one,” Pender said.