SIDNEY — Sidney High School students may not make memories at prom this year, but teacher Sara Olding is trying to ensure they have some sort of prom pictures.
Olding, who teaches English to seniors at the school, has taken photographs at the school’s spring dances for over 20 years. Sidney’s prom was scheduled for Saturday but was postponed last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the likelihood of the dance occurring looking small, Olding decided to take photographs in front of students’ houses instead, similar to the popular ‘front porch project’ photographers across the nation have been participating in since social distancing guidelines were established last month.
Olding, who is also an occasional contributing columnist for the Sidney Daily News, began taking photos on Thursday while also participating in the school’s project to place yard signs in front of the houses of each of the school’s over 300 seniors. About 30 Sidney teachers placed signs on Thursday.
Sidney teacher Adam Doenges came up with the idea to place signs in front of students’ houses and collaborated with principal Denny Morrison and assistant principals Kevin Boerger and Greg Snyder to create a plan to purchase the signs. Similar plans have also recently been carried out by other local districts, including Anna.
Olding normally prints some of the prom photos she takes and decorates her classroom with them. After the dances’ postponement, some students inquired about having photos taken anyway.
“I told them if prom was canceled I would still take pictures somehow,” Olding said.
Olding decided to take photos around the weekend the dance was originally scheduled and created online sign-up sheets for interested students. She had 65 seniors scheduled as of Wednesday.
“It’s just like the front porch idea,” Olding said. “I’ll take the pictures from the street or the yard.”
Some students are wearing their planned prom outfits for the photos, though Olding said some female students are not in case the dance is rescheduled. She said some girls don’t want to “ruin the surprise” of their attire in the event prom is rescheduled. Sidney superintendent Bob Humble said the dance may take place in June if current restrictions on large group gatherings are lifted.
“Some students are wearing things like their baseball uniforms, and one of my students wants to wear her national academia championship T-shirt,” Olding said. “They all have different ideas of what they want to do. It’s turned into a little bigger project that I thought it might.”
Olding visited about a dozen students on Thursday and said she enjoyed talking and seeing them — from a distance. She said the prevailing hope of her students is for school to reopen before the end of the year, including Megan Heckler, who told Olding she hopes classes resume even if it’s only for one week.
Olding has encouraged some students to write about their quarantine experience, and most have lamented the lack of socialization.
“The seniors this year are a lot stronger than adults give them credit for,” Olding said. “I think they understand the gravity of what’s happening. They’re anxious and want to return back to school but they also understand that something larger is happening.”
If schools do reopen this year, Olding said her classroom will be filled with prints of photos she’s taking this weekend.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.