Cleveland, OH. – Like many high school seniors, Jordyn Justus was gearing up for a glorious season of graduation traditions – parties, farewells, walking across a stage in cap and gown and especially senior prom.
“These are not just things we’ve been looking forward to for the school year, it's been like our entire lives – this is why you're going to school for 12 years. I’ve been waiting for all this since kindergarten,” said Jordyn, 17.
She even found the perfect prom dress, green and flowing with an open back, and shoes to match. She was so excited about the dress, she texted photos to all of her coworkers at Starbucks, her after-school job for two years. Then the world turned upside down in a way no one could have anticipated, and all of the senior year events, including prom, were canceled. That’s when her managers at Starbucks, Erich Krems and MC Nemecek, decided prom must go on.
“She was so excited, showing everyone pictures of her prom dress, and what it looked like on the hanger, what it looked like on her,” said MC, the store’s assistant manager. “I graduated from high school eight years ago, so while it’s pretty far away for me now, I remember how it felt – one dress, one night and having that story and that closure. As soon as she told me her prom was canceled, I said, ‘We’re going to have one for you.’”
A few days later, MC instructed Jordyn to bring her prom dress to work. When Jordyn arrived, she found the café, which is currently closed, had been transformed into prom. There was a dance floor and photo booth area. The store partners were dressed in formalwear under their green aprons. MC handed Jordyn a small flower corsage to pin to her apron – she’d brought them for all the store partners.
“There were streamers and a photo backdrop that said ‘prom’ and the balloon store isn’t open, so I cut those out of poster board,” MC said. “At the drive thru window, people were asking, ‘Why are you wearing flowers?’ We told them it was prom. Our customers got a kick out of that.”
When the drive thru had a slow moment, MC asked Jordyn to change into her prom dress. When Jordyn emerged in her emerald gown, her coworkers turned up the music and cheered for her and presented her with a “prom queen” sash.
“We know that this is going to be one of those moments people are going to remember for the rest of their lives, whether good or bad, and we are trying to make positive memories,” said Erich, the store’s manager. “We always talk to our partners about creating about best moments here at Starbucks, but right now, in this moment, we're making lasting moments.”
Jordyn, who is moving to Charlotte, N.C., to attend Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts, will be transferring to work at a Starbucks near campus. She said it’s hard to imagine having better bosses than Erich and MC. Thanks to them, her senior prom ended up being nothing like she’d pictured it but far better than she ever hoped.
“It was the exact magical feeling that I was expecting from prom, but so much better. It really was more important to me than even my actual senior prom would have been,” Jordyn said. “Starbucks has been my family since 2018 and they've always taken such good care of me. And then this was just above and beyond. It was by far the most meaningful thing anyone has ever done for me.”
-- by Jennifer Warnick / Illustration by Raelene Goodson