A Chance to Dance

Junior Bella Watkins plans and hosts private prom for students



The entrance to 111 N. Main, where junior Bella Watkins is hosting a private prom.

Julia Trantham, Staff Writer

When junior Bella Watkins learned the news that the school would not be holding a traditional prom, she realized many students would be disappointed at the loss of a normally major school event. Watkins wanted to deter that feeling of loss and decided to plan a prom for students who wanted to dance, but still do so safely.

The school is holding a senior banquet in lieu of prom this year, which is open to seniors and their dates. Students will eat dinner together, and there will be entertainment and a photo booth, but no dancing.

Watkins says that the theme for the prom she’s hosting is “Enchanted,” with a woodsy and earthy-toned color scheme. It will be held at the 111 North Main event center in downtown Benton.

“They just renovated it, and it’s super clean.” Watkins said. “The lady that owns it is helping me out with pricing and stuff to make it as much fun as possible.”

Watkins knows that there might be concern about safety in regards to the pandemic.

“We have limited tickets because of COVID, and I have a limited capacity of 130 people in my event center, but my goal is to have 100 kids sign up [to come],” Watkins said. “The lady in my venue said that we are doing limited seating so that not everyone at once can be eating without their mask on.”

Because the event is fairly large, Watkins acknowledged that there might be other concerns about the safety of the attendees.

“I’ve already talked to a lot of adults, and we’re going to have chaperones, and we are trying to work with [the] Benton PD to see if we can get a security guard or two from there just to make sure that things go smoothly,” Watkins said.

As an extra precaution, Watkins said that she sent out a Google Form to anyone who wants to attend to fill out their contact information and mark an acknowledgement that masks will be worn when people are inside. 

The Google Form also requires attendees to agree to a liability waiver, indicating that if there are illnesses after the event, Watkins will not be responsible. However, she will send out mass emails to all who attend if someone reports any sickness.

“In the outside space, we’re going to keep the back doors open and front doors open to allow air flow throughout the facility,” Watkins said. “I’ve made sure that everyone knows that masks are recommended and that social distancing will be occurring.”

Despite concerns from others regarding holding a large event amid a pandemic, Watkins feels that this decision was a sound one.

“I’ve gotten a little bit of negative feedback, but for the most part, people are enjoying the fact that there is going to be a prom,” Watkins said. “I am comfortable in it knowing that vaccines are coming out, and I’m hoping that people are going to be smart and wearing masks.”

Watkins also feels that her event will be safer than some of the experiences she’s faced on a daily basis at school.

“I feel like this will be better than being on campus and being in the lunchroom, because there is more of a risk there than at this venue to catch COVID,” Watkins said.

Watkins says that the event will only have students from Bryant, with very few exceptions. It will be very similar to a traditional prom, with a DJ, snacks and beverages and several games, along with an announced prom king and queen. The event will start at 8 p.m. and last until 11 p.m. on Sat. May 8.

While some may assume that Watkins is using the lack of a normal prom to make money, her intention is to help others have a good end to the school year.

“People think I’m profiting from this, but I’m not,” Watkins said. “Everything I made is going back into this event.”