Why Students, Parents, and Schools Embrace Prom

We Invest In Lifetime Moments

With the sluggish economy and the cost of extra school activities on the rise, one would think that prom might suffer with a lack of participation and ticket sales.  Exactly why would teens (and more importantly, their parents) still be willing to accept the purportedly high price tag of this one-night event?  A survey of customers from Stumps Party, a national prom supplies and event supplies company, suggests that schools value prom traditions.

 Introduction to the Romanticism of Prom Begins at a Young Age

In today’s society, individuals become acclimated to the custom and tradition of prom and grand dances while still young.  From the moment a little girl sees Cinderella for the first time, she starts planning for the big ball.  Who doesn’t want to be a Disney princess for a day? Pop culture has kept that feeling alive for generations with films like Grease, Footloose, Pretty in Pink, Never Been Kissed and Twilight that remind us that prom was, and still is, a big deal.  By the time the real dance comes along, the anticipation of the event is at a crescendo-who can say no to that?

Planning for the Event Prompts a Sense of School Unity

Today’s proms aren’t thrown together at the last minute.  In many cases, planning begins as early as the beginning of the school year.  Faculty advisers organize student prom committees.  These committees spearhead tasks such as selecting prom themes, setting budgets and coming up with fundraising ideas.  Between planning the fundraisers, soliciting donations, and arranging groups of volunteers to pitch in with the activities, participating students learn skills such as effective communication and leadership, organization and delegation skills, and money management.  For the student body at large, those who lend a hand to these moneymaking efforts learn about teamwork and responsibility.

Kate Henderson, a prom adviser at Wendover High School, in Wendover, Utah says, “If our prom did not exist there would be a huge hole in our junior program.  They work concessions all year and clean the gym after all home games to raise enough money to afford a nice prom.  We also have an absentee and tardy policy that hinges on all extracurricular activities, which prom is part of.  If students have unexcused absences or tardies, they cannot attend prom. The students work very hard to be eligible to go.”  All in all, the planning and preparation of prom helps to promote a sense of accomplishment for all those involved.  These lessons alone may be well worth the time and money a school invests in prom.

Traditions are passed from one class to another.  In fact, the tradition of giving prom memory booklets to couples dates back to 1926, when Stumps first introduced these keepsake favors.  Trends may change (today swag bags are hot), but taking pictures at parents’ homes, crowning the king and queen, and decorating the dance remain.

Prom is Unlike Any Other School Dance Event

What sets prom apart from other dances and school events?  Prom’s role in American culture dates back to the debutante balls of the wealthy.  By 1894 middle-class parents wanted institutionalized settings to instill etiquette, so proms spread to elite colleges.  By the early 1900’s, proms were in high schools.  Since then, tens of millions of students have taken part in the prom tradition.  Today, most high schools only allow juniors and seniors to purchase tickets to the prom.  Students see prom as a privilege, a rite of passage, of having paid their dues.  It’s like a special induction into an exclusive club where they have now earned the right to attend this big night.  Dances take place in fully decorated, school gymnasiums, cafeterias, and banquet halls.  For many students, especially seniors, it is the last big occasion before graduation activities commence and so it represents a sort of end to adolescence.  Prom offers one last night to be together as a group, to sing and dance and celebrate collectively.

After Prom Activities Offer Safe Alternatives For Students

Many schools now offer an after-prom tradition that allows students the options of an all night, alcohol free event full of music, games and activities.  Students decorate these events in popular themes, just like they do with prom.  Today’s favorites include Paris, Mardi Gras, Under the Sea, Candy, Casino, or City prom themes.  Parents and teachers chaperone during the night.  Kayleigh Overmyer, a prom committee member and junior at Maumee High School says “After-prom is as popular, if not more so, than prom. It’s so much fun that we will sell as many tickets to that as we will to the actual prom, maybe a bit more!“  Deejays often play popular music at after-prom, too.

According to Mark Charvat, a prom deejay with over 31 years of experience at J & M Productions, this year’s popular musical artists include Usher and LMFAO.  Charvat explains, “Top slow songs are requested according to the prom’s theme.  For example, Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing is often requested at Hollywood theme proms because it was the leading song from the movie, Armageddon.” This year, Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, the theme song from the movie, Titanic is a popular, prom song.

After prom events maintain a lock-in atmosphere in which students must remain inside the venue until the conclusion of the event and thus putting the fears of many parents to rest in regards to their safety after prom is over.

Prom Is A Finale Most Will Not Skip

When kids look to their years in high school, there are many milestones they will mark: their sweet 16, getting their driver’s license, graduation, and yes, prom.  Because the reality is, there isn’t any other event quite like prom, and there may not ever be.  It is steeped in nostalgia in a way that nothing else is.  It is the culmination of years of anticipation and whether it lives up to expectations or not, it will always be the apex of all high school dances, that by which all others are measured.  It marks the closing of a school year and often a school career, and it caps off an era of memories and experiences that can’t be replaced.  It still remains an event not to be missed.  Jacquie Downey, Director of Sales and Marketing for Stumps Party, adds, “Prom is a rite of passage and a memory that will last a life time.  Today’s teens will be telling their children about the fun they had at prom and so on.  Some experiences are just worth the investment.  Prom is one of those events.”






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