Chuck Brooks' column: Prom tradition endures for RHS students
If you’re up on your school news, then you know what weekend this weekend is.
It’s the weekend where all the kiddies spend hundreds of dollars to play grown-up and eat out and dance and ride around in limousines and fancy “party” buses. Oh, the spectacle!
Yup. It’s Prom. One of my favorite activities of the school year. Seriously. One of the reasons is because I have little to do for responsibility. I get up at 6 that morning thanks to another peer/friend of mine who IS in charge of the event. We have breakfast on the road to St. Paul’s First Trust building where Prom is held. We unload boxes and get things ready for the committee of seniors who will show up by 8. The kids decorate the hall while my buddy tells them what needs to be done, and I merely am around for moral support. I’ve never been good with interior design. If it were up to me, it might end up looking like a circus theme each year.
Once Grand March begins at 5, I merely welcome everyone who has come to ob-serve the kids coming down the escalators, introduce performances, introduce the student readers of the couples’ names and wait for Grand March to end. After the chaperones have their catered-in dinner, the kids slowly begin returning to the hall around 8:30, and the dance begins. We are well staffed with adults and police and, for as many years as I’ve done this, we’ve never had one issue. I believe in my 32 years, I have missed maybe three Proms.
Another reason I love this event is because it’s spring, and often the night is one of those beautiful warm spring evenings. It sort of marks the beginning of the end for many. One weekend later, it’s Memorial Day and then, it’s all over but the shoutin’! I know. We still have 17 days after that, but trust me. Everyone is in a different place after Prom. That’s not always a good thing.
Funny thing about Prom. Of all that I’ve seen change over time with students and their behaviors, Prom remains a constant. Kids still go to Prom, regardless of how the price has jumped on so many aspects of the event. The yearly tradition has not gone by the roadside, nor does it even hint at doing so. I can’t imagine telling students in any year that there will be no Prom this year due to lack of student interest. I know it will not happen in my tenure here.
Homecoming is another one of those events that continues to roll along without much change in attendance or spirit. Yet, dances, for example, have greatly lost their appeal to the high school teen since I started my career at RHS. We once had a dance per month. There was the Welcome Back Dance. Kids were itching to get into the student center, connect with everyone and have fun dancing. That was always followed a few weeks later with Homecoming. In November we had Sadie Hawkins Dance. December we’d sometimes do a holiday-themed dance. January might have been the one month we settled for nothing because February brought Sno-Daze, an event similar to Homecoming. Each grade had royalty for this. There was a spirit week and voting and a major formal dance on the Saturday night to conclude the week. It was fun but it lost popularity.
March had the End-Of-The-Tri Dance. April had MORP — Prom spelled backwards. Underclassmen who couldn’t attend Prom had this opportunity. It came complete with a lip sync competition and lots of fun. May had Prom and sometimes, in my younger years when I knew no better, I had a June “End-Of-The-Year” Dance. I know. What was I thinking?
As of next year, it looks like we’re down to two dances plus Prom. Homecoming and Sadies.
One by one, I’ve watched the others die. When Sno-Daze died, I saw the handwriting on the wall. Even Sadies could be on its way out but probably only after I’m gone from here. Homecoming is profitable and Sadies isn’t bad, but the other dances were costing Student Council, the sponsor of these dances, money. Lack of student body support slowly eliminated those other dances.
Maybe that’s another reason I love Prom. It’s a throwback to a time when the kids loved to have fun. Playing dress-up is always fun and pretending like you’re an adult has its appeal to them.
Yea. I have fun that night watching them have fun. If they only knew how much fun they could be having with the other dances. Oh well.
Wow! It’s late. Gotta run. Don’t wanna miss out on the fun! You’re only young once!