Make-up artists have been booked out since February, keen students have had the perfect dress in their closet for months, but the class of 2020 still don't know what coronavirus rules will mean for their celebrations.
The normally vibrant milestone will look different for year 12, 10 and 6 students who are preparing for an end of year unlike they could have imagined.
Several cohorts are considering a live-streamed graduation to keep parents involved from home and outside guests at formals will likely be disallowed.
ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations president Kirsty McGovern-Hooley said it was unclear how end of year events for large schools would work.
"It's all still very confusing ... it depends very much on the setting," she said.
"At a college level, for example, you may have 500 kids in Year 12 and if there are two parents or carers or friends wanting to come see the graduation or formal arrivals that's 1500 people you need to accommodate in a space and social distance," she said.
"It's a really big challenge for schools to try and manage that in a way that keeps everyone safe."
End of year events can take place on school grounds with no cap on the number of students, but there can be no more than 100 outside guests who must physically distance, and events should be kept to two hours.
Formals at a public venue must keep attendees, including students, to less than 100. Students from the same school can dance without requiring to be physically distanced.
Two schools can request an exemption to hold an event together, but students from different schools would be required to socially distance.
'It's not going to be how we envisioned it'
St Clare's College student Analise Greenhalgh was one of many students who bought her dress and booked in make-up months ago.
Her 113-student cohort would typically celebrate at Parliament House for an evening with parents and guests. In 2020, it will likely be a smaller student-only affair.
"At the start [of the year] we thought we had to have a formal and graduation, we have to have everything the way it was," Analise said.
"At this point, you've seen across the world how [coronavirus] changed everything, I think we might have come to terms with that, it's not going to be how we envisioned it."
Analise was hopeful to have any small acknowledgement of her school career, particularly after struggling through yo-yoing remote learning.
"So many Australians ... can relate to having that night, they've always either got some cringey, embarrasing story or they say it was one of the best nights ever," she said.
"We really want to have that experience."
Plans for the almost 500-student graduating cohort at Narrabundah College were still up in the air despite the government's green light.
"If there's a chance to go off campus we'll take it but at this stage it looks like it's on site," principal Kerrie Grundy said.
She said the school would make the celebrations as memorable as possible, and was considering live-streaming graduation to keep parents involved.
"We want our community to be involved. We seem to learn along the way and get it right."
'Something is better than nothing'
Ms McGovern-Hooley said it was important parents were included in end of year celebrations, whether that meant staggered events or a digital experience.
"Particularly after the year we've had, it's really important to parents that we're able to acknowledge and recognise those milestones," she said.
"It's not just the student who is saying goodbye to the school, it's also the parents."
Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools executive officer Jenni Rickard said formals and graduations were meaningful ceremonies.
"It really is like the end of your childhood and you're getting pushed out into adulthood," she said.
"I'm pleased to see that schools are really trying to come up with the best solution to ensure that it still occurs. I think at this stage most of the kids out there are thinking something is better than nothing."
The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT executive director Andrew Wrigley welcomed the government guidelines he said were clear.
"They'll come up with creative ways to do it, in response to their own community's needs. It will be different depending on each school, as we know everything this year is different from previous years," he said.