Video and story by: Samantha Snellings

Chloe Atencio never thought that her parents would be attending her Senior Prom or that the event would be so close by — downstairs in the family’s living room.

Like many others, Highlands Ranch High School made the difficult decision to cancel the dance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Suzanne Shaw Atencio didn’t want her daughter’s special day to come and go without a celebration, so she improvised.

“In two days, we just pulled it together,” she said.

With help from her eldest daughter, Ashley, the Highlands Ranch mom transformed the main floor of their home into an unforgettable venue.

A photo booth, raffles and senior toast — they had it all.

The “DJ” played the traditional prom music on the makeshift dance floor. But there was a twist.

A special father-daughter dance. The song choice was easy. “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton.

As a member of the Student Council, Chloe is used to planning events for other people. For one night, the roles were reversed.

The last few weeks have been a change of pace for Chloe, forcing her to clear her schedule and slow down.

“It’s nice to realize that you don’t need to be doing something every minute of the day,” Chloe said.

“That’s a big thing for Chloe,” her mom added. “Chloe was on the go. She is a very social person, has a lot of friends and is always involved in school and Senate and organization.”

The pandemic has robbed seniors of many traditions, but it has also given them time that they would not have otherwise had.

“I would not have seen her if things were ‘normal,'” Suzanne Shaw Atencio said.

Chloe’s parents will be empty-nesters after she heads off to school this fall.

She plans on attending Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat, Colorado. “I will get all of my prerequisites there and then move to Vail to get my Paramedic License,” Chloe said.

But until then, they are savoring every moment that they have together.

Samantha Snellings

I like telling stories and what makes people tick. What wakes them up in the morning. What gives them a sense of purpose. I want to be let in on their hopes and dreams. I want to understand their struggles. I refuse to live a mundane life where I simply go through the motions, passing by people without truly seeing them. I want to be a voice for the voiceless.