Prom: a night to remember or a night of exclusion?


Kaelin Collar

Barlow Prom 2022

As the school year is winding down, many upperclassmen are looking forward to Prom, the anticipated school dance that is momentous. However, is the dance genuinely life-changing? Considering this is the first Prom the majority of upperclassmen will be attending for the first time, there is a specific expectation that it will be regretted if missed. What if that’s not true, or school districts could use Prom and other dance funding to better and support students.

Prom has been around for decades, and the cost of attending is significantly rising. On average, some students can spend hundreds to thousands of dollars for a couple of hours for one night. A social stigma of buying the outfit, ordering the corsage or boutonniere, getting nails done, the cost of hair and makeup, and going out to dinner can be outrageous pricing which causes students whose families cannot afford the expenses to feel missed out, excluded, and uncomfortable in the environment. Those students who don’t feel the necessity to do or buy everything around the stigma of Prom are often bullied for their choices. Prom is often described as an evening to look your best, so retail stores and companies meticulously plan the pricing of clothing and accessories around the high schoolers who are preoccupied with how they’re going to look and portrayed to others, especially when taking into consideration most high schoolers will end up posting their pictures on social media platforms. Since the photos will be seen by many people and saved, the cost someone is willing to spend for Prom is ridiculous. The night is notably a special occasion, and since many students don’t often dress up, any price can arguably be reasonable.

Another social stigma built around Prom night is an opportunity and almost an obligation for teenagers to underage drink, smoke, have sex and do other activities. Advertised in several movies and talked widely about in weeks leading up to Prom is the activities after the dance has ended. While these activities can not only create false expectations among individuals and their peers, these activities put students’ lives at risk. The night is supposed to be filled with fun, laughter, and friends, not engaging in activities to harm yourself or others.

Individual school funding for Prom is usually taken out of the activities budget, whereas the funding goes towards the dance location, the food, pictures, music, and other essentials. However, decreasing the amount of money dedicated to Prom or entirely using the funding towards other activities, perhaps more inclusive activities, would promote a positive school community. There are so many unrecognized clubs, limited school events, and other opportunities for staff and students to be a part of at several schools, including Barlow, as administrators chose to put the funding towards one night that only lasts a few hours rather than a continuance of other activities and or clubs.

As Prom approaches each school year, keep in mind that no one is invincible. Don’t put your life and others at risk for immature behavior. Enjoy the night while it lasts and creates positive memories. Keep in mind that while some students live by Prom night, there are so many factors and benefits that the additional funding could go towards creating a more substantial school atmosphere.