School News: To Go or Not To Go To Prom

Sam Lushtak standing proudly next to his successful prom ask

Sam Lushtak standing proudly next to his successful prom ask

By Amanda Douglas, Avani Bahl, and Aidan Linscott

With prom approaching, the polarizing topic of “promposals” has been circulating amongst students, faculty, and administration, generating many different opinions. As at many other high schools, Branson students will often ask others to Prom with flowers, posters, and  love. While some do so privately, others prefer to ask in a more public setting, such as the Commons, Quad, or assembly.

In light of this recent phenomenon, some teachers and students have become quite frustrated with the hegemonic implications of public promposals. Branson English teacher Jeff Symonds commented, “I am all for young people going out and dancing the night away,” but he does not understand “the need to couch that event in patriarchal language of the past,” or “why we would want to make that antiquated form of coupling a big public celebration.”

Jorge Rodriguez, another English teacher, believes the issue of “promposals” is actually a “consent issue where the person who is being asked is being cornered by peer pressure into saying yes,” and, in fact, he does “have a problem with that,” as there “needs to be room for person to say no.”

This viewpoint is not unique among Branson’s community, as quite a few students and other faculty members have expressed concern as well. This year, Branson Receptionist Elizabeth Riley helped a student out with their public asking.  She said that the ask was “fun…clever…and creative,” but she conceded she “can see where it would be awkward if it didn’t work out so smoothly.” In the end, Mrs. Riley said, “I didn’t realize the position I put the young lady in. I would not do it again.”

Some students share this perspective. Junior Claire Smythe expressed her concern that promposals “have become a sense of validation for people” in many circumstances.  If one were to ask in such a way that there were enough societal pressures to prevent the recipient from saying “no,” it would effectively guarantee the asker a date.  Some say that being asked to prom feels good, and the more showy it is, the more special one feels.  These large public declarations, however, make “people who haven’t been asked feel bad because they don’t feel they are special” too says Claire.

Of all the students that seem to share this opinion, most are upperclassmen. Some are concerned, but don’t see it entirely as negative. An anonymous junior says that “flashy promposals are fine as long as it’s implied the two people like each other already.” Her classmate Anthony Coleman agrees, “I’m against public asking if the people aren’t already dating.”  A junior added that “if you say no [to a public ask], people will judge you,” which is scary to think about for some.

Sophomores Dani Morgen and Melanie Kissinger said that “in general, it’s fun” because everyone gets “involved and really excited.” They also said that any potential embarrassment is “a fun type of embarrass[ment],” and in the end, it’s a “more positive…than negative.” Freshman Callie Jones also wholly supports asking people to prom publicly; “the public promposals really brighten the mood and put a smile on everyone’s faces,” Callie says, “I love to see the creativity and ideas all the students have as to how they are going to ask, they are so uplifting and entertaining to watch.”

Branson Head of School Ellen Moceri is in favor of these prom askings as long as the students are. “I tend not to take these things too seriously because I think kids have enough problems without our over-politicizing their kind of normal activities,” she commented, “if they find it enjoyable, I say go for it. If I were to get a delegation of 50 kids saying, ‘no we don’t like this [and] we don’t want to do it anymore,’ then I would say, ‘fine,’ [but] I haven’t heard that, so I think most kids probably think it’s okay.” She also believes that promposals can be beneficial for teenagers during this time: “I don’t think there’s enough healthy expression of emotion in our culture, and I think this is probably an expression of emotion. Maybe some kids are making fun of it. But I think it’s kind of nice to give girls flowers and have a big banner that says, ‘I’d like to go to prom with you.’ It’s my era. I probably don’t have the same political reactions that younger women might have….[but] if the kids think it’s fine, then I think it’s fine.”

Science teacher Alicia Taylor shared a similar opinion to Ms. Moceri. “I don’t agree with the opinion that boys asking girls to prom in a showy way is anti-feminist,” she said, “I don’t understand what the big deal is.”

The subject of promposals will slip back into oblivion as prom season comes to a close, but the issue remains unresolved and could likely swim out of the void next spring.