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NICEVILLE – Niceville High School seniors would have dressed to the nines, rented limos and danced through a rite of passage this past Saturday at what was scheduled to be their prom before the coronavirus outbreak.
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While there was no official announcement, seniors assumed – like every other school function – it was canceled.
Too bad Jordan Schak already had a dress.
Schak’s boyfriend’s mother, Lisa Hammond, knew Schak had a nonrefundable gown. When Lisa Hammond saw Our Greenhouse Flowers in Fort Walton Beach was offering a limited amount of free flower bouquets to seniors, she came up with an alternate plan for Saturday night.
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"I told the girls, ‘I know you have your dresses. If you still want to go get dressed up and reserve the flowers, I’d be more than happy to take pictures for you,’" Lisa Hammond said.
Lisa Hammond took photos of her son, Colton Hammond, and Schak, as well as Schak’s longtime best friend and fellow senior, Kelby Barfield, and her boyfriend and Niceville High School alumnus, Aiden Ancog, for a couple of hours at The Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin followed with homemade fish tacos at her house. The four are close friends, as Colton Hammond and Ancog played football together.
"They were all just glad to be hanging out together with friends for a little bit, to be doing something that felt somewhat normal," Lisa Hammond said. "The boys probably cooperated more for pictures more so Saturday than they would normally because there wasn’t anything else for them to be doing. They were still out there laughing and smiling and having fun."
"I think it’s just making the best out of a bad situation, seeing as how we couldn’t have a real prom and since she had the dress," Colton Hammond said. "It was nice that we could at least go out and take pictures and hang out for a bit since we don’t get to have the real thing."
The staff of the merry-go-round happened to be there and let them use it as a backdrop.
"There was nobody out there; there was music going," Lisa Hammond said. "None of them are big on dancing anyway. They had as much fun out there as they could. They just enjoyed the atmosphere for a bit."
Schak was excited to have photos, she said.
"I’ve been looking forward to taking prom pictures since my freshman year," Schak said. "I think they turned out pretty good."
Like Schak, Barfield enjoyed the opportunity to wear her dress.
"We all decided to get dressed up and get something out of all the money we spent on the dresses," Barfield said. "I do a lot of sports, so sometimes it’s nice to get dressed up and go back to my roots of pageants."
Barfield was glad Ancog, now a Southern Virginia University freshman, came for the photo shoot.
"He wanted to help make my senior year the best it could be with all of this going on," Barfield said. "It’s not how I expected my senior year to be."
They channeled a sense of humor in their photos. In one, Ancog lifts up Barfield in the same iconic lift as in the movie "Dirty Dancing."
"We had so much fun with it," Barfield said. "I loved them. They turned out great. Kinda shows our personalities and how close we are with my best friend and her boyfriend. Got to make some good memories."
The students posted their photos on social media and received a positive response from their classmates.
"Most of the other students thought it was really cool and wish they could’ve done the same thing," Schak said. "I think we inspired other people to do the same thing as well – hopefully. I think even if you don’t have a dress, you should still try to take some pictures."