Don’t be a party-pooper over prom nights

A colleague pointed rather sniffily at an event which took place at a local school over the weekend.
“Well, I mean it’s daft, isn’t it? We never had that sort of thing in my day,” she said, flouncing off.
The event in question was a prom fair held at Wolstanton High School aimed at giving hundreds of youngsters ideas for the big party to mark the end of their school days.
For those who don’t know, the idea of the ‘prom’ originated in the U.S. and Canada.
Prom is short for promenade – sadly nothing at all to do with the front at Rhyl or Blackpool.
No, this kind of prom is a formal dance for high school students.
It is a chance to choose a ‘Prom King’ and ‘Prom Queen’ – awarded to the most popular students chosen in a school-wide vote.
Other accolades are also given out for sporting excellence and such like – often leading to the creation of a Prom Court of the school’s great and good from a particular year group.
In the States the prom figures greatly in popular culture and is a major event for high school students.
It has only really taken off in the UK in the last 10 years where more and more schools are starting to embrace the concept.
However, many people – like my colleague – don’t approve of the idea of allowing spotty herberts to dress up in black tie and young girls to don evening gowns.
They see it as a nonsensical extravagance – an excuse for the underage to consume alcohol, dress inappropriately, ride around in limousines and and make ill-advised lunges at their classmates.
In other words … they are jealous that such parties didn’t happen when they were at school.
Of course, the idea of a big bash to celebrate the end of your school life is nothing new.
In fact, my very first experience of a nightclub was when the class of 1988 from Holden Lane High held its leavers’ party at the infamous Chicos in Hanley.
I can still vividly remember dancing (I use the term loosely) to Erasure and making eyes across the dancefloor at a dark-haired girl who was way out of my league as I sat nursing a glass of Coke.
I may not have been cool but I don’t think the leavers’ party did me any permanent damage.
Although, I have to say, I’m pleased there was no voting for the most popular pupils in my day because, unless there had been an award for Squarest History Student, yours truly wouldn’t have troubled the scorers.
Nonetheless, I firmly believe that the end of your school days is a milestone worth celebrating.
For many, it marks an end to the comfort blanket of full-time education before the great party-pooper that is work kicks in.
For everyone it is the end of friendships and acquaintances that began way back in primary school, perhaps at the age of just five years old.
You don’t realise it at the time but very often you never see some of your school friends again and so creating a shared memory at a prom is perhaps no bad thing.
There is a tendency in this country to assume guilt when it comes to our young people.
We seize on mistakes, blame bad parenting and a lack of discipline and forget that, yes, we too were young once.
Maybe I’m being naive but I like to think that the more we treat our youngsters like adults the more they are inclined to act responsibly.
The fact is that most teenagers will be dressing beyond their years, dabbling with booze and exploring relationships with the opposite sex anyway.
At least a prom focuses their energy on an event where they can perhaps appreciate the changes that are coming upon them and really understand and value friendships forged over time.
Let’s face it, being a grown-up is grim enough, so we should let our school-leavers live a little before inflicting real life on them.
Later this month the class of ’88 from Holden Lane will hold another reunion and I dare say every one of us would give our right arm to be 16 again and for a shot at a prom crown.

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