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Murray Journal

Community rallies to support Murray High seniors as they ‘Carry On’ during pandemic to hold magical senior ball

May 24, 2021 02:56PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

During the last few weeks of her high school career, senior class president Liberty McBride was busy.  

She helped with senior week, spirit week, Spartan Spectacular and graduation.

“We are trying to get everything in the last two months,” McBride said.

Then, word reached her that the students could hold the senior ball May 8—one of the few dances allowed this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled many high school activities her senior year. 

McBride picked the theme, “Carry On,” based on the pop song by Fun.

“The song starts that we’ve ‘never been through hell like that’ and this year hasn’t been what we expected. Then at the end, it talks about being shining stars and how ‘no one's ever gonna stop us now’ and it kind of fits. We got in our last dance and it was really fun,” she said.

However, there was a catch. Instead of holding the ball at the University of Utah, where Murray High typically holds it, it would be held outside at the school. She said she was nervous about how to make it special from typical school dances and was uncertain as to the turnout.

But it turned out that McBride didn’t have to worry. With her idea of lighting up the school plaza with white lights decorating the trees and plaza, she rallied support to make it a reality.

Her mother, Emily, also reached out to the community, asking for support of the high school seniors to hold their dance this special way. 

“I posted that they had the vision to light up the plaza and the whole city came through,” Emily McBride said. “People came and donated or loaned their Christmas lights and helped us light up every tree.”

Not only neighbors, but the community reached out as she said Illuminate Lighting and Window Cleaning loaned and strung up more than 6,000 lights on trees and loaned a canopy, all to light up the plaza.

“Dozens of people came and donated and loaned lights and about 20 people volunteered to help put them up,” she said. “I was so overwhelmed by the support. It was a big ask and big vision and people rallied to make sure it happened.”

Liberty McBride said that students as well as student government pitched in on decorating the plaza over four or five days after school and during the evenings. 

The dance, which had a deejay, included a churros truck, a photo booth, a suspended backdrop lit with fairy lights and a Murray High graduate who was a photographer taking photos as well as a red carpet in the center.  

The finishing touch came when a group reached out to McBride.

“The Murray High Tech Club came to me and asked if they could project the names of all the seniors on the wall,” she said. “It looked cool, and everybody watched for their names to come up.”

The club also projected graphics of the Spartan mascot, Class of 2021 and Senior Ball as well as videotaped parts of the dance, including the last dance of the 350 seniors and their guests from the school roof.

“The highlight was the last dance,” McBride said. “We had a big dance circle, and we all were dancing as ‘Carry On’ played. When it was over, since it was our last dance, we all hugged and cried. There were a lot of emotions, but it was cool.”

Her mother agreed: “It was magical. They were having so much fun, dancing and twirling in that circle. Then, they started crying when it was over; they never wanted to leave. Set up took more than 50 hours and many hands contributed to make it happen for these students who have had a year that none of us expected. I’m so grateful for everyone who helped. It really meant a lot to the seniors to end on a great note.”