A small-town prom in Utah is like nothing you have ever seen. It's so hard to explain to outsiders because the whole concept is so...unusual. Our little town in Utah goes all out and makes prom a community event. It must be similar to a debutante ball, but I can't be certain; I've never been to one of those.
When I was in high school in rural Virginia, our high school gym was a makeshift venue that disguised our gym with artificial turf and parachutes and streamers. Not all of our students went to the prom. Sure, most of the kids did, but many of the ones who went just showed up for pictures, as proof of attendance for their parents, one supposes, and then they went their merry way to do do who-knows-what, who-knows-where.
These days, prom in our Utah town is for everyone; not just the junior class. The whole community is welcome. Every junior has a date. If you don't have a date, the office will arrange one for you. The underlying concept seems to be inclusion. An interesting concept to me is that the juniors who have boyfriends and girlfriends from other high schools do not take them out for this special evening. They go with a classmate instead.
As a young girl in a serious of unrequited relationships, I would have given ANYTHING to go to prom with a BOYFRIEND. So I was shocked when my firstborn, who had a steady girlfriend at the rival high school, began making plans to invite someone from his own school.
"This is SOUTH SEVIER'S prom, Shrink," he told me. I was worried about his darling girlfriend. I need not have fretted about her feelings. Not only was she okay with that, she was going to her high school's prom with a classmate from HER school. I just shook my head, bewildered. It is simply the way things are done here.
"Parents go to PROM?" I asked.
"Well, yeah!" Dylan told me. "After we do the promenade (a dance routine that includes a waltz that the kids practice the weeks before), we all do the first dance with our parents."
"You're going to dance FOR us?" I asked. "Wait; the PARENTS dance at the prom?" This was too much.
"The whole family is invited, Shrink. They sell tickets for anybody who wants to come watch."
The high school sells tickets to the community, for a very reasonable three dollars a piece, to attend the gala event. Parents of juniors are given tickets, free of charge. Siblings, former alumnae, friends, grandparents; ANYBODY else, pays a few bucks for an evening of entertainment, complete with refreshments. Like I said, the theme seems to be inclusion of everybody.
When my daughter's junior prom rolled around a couple of years later, I was still dumbfounded that she didn't take her boyfriend from the north end of the county as her date, but I knew better than to make a big deal out of it. The kids only take classmates, and they go with groups of friends, and they make sure everyone has a good time.
And by good time, I mean good wholesome fun. Prom isn't just about the dance. The kids plan activities that sometimes last all day, requiring changes of clothes for different situations.
Bridger's prom was a couple weeks ago. He doesn't have a steady girlfriend, but he has a large group of friends, and his date was a lovely exchange student from Denmark.
The boys planned a fun afternoon of Glow-in-the-Dark volleyball at the gym of a local church. Each participant donned glow-in-the-dark necklaces, and there was a glowing playground ball, and they turned the lights off in the gym, and had a ball, literally.
This years's prom was planned by Raina Williams, a lovely, ultra-organized junior, and her plans were executed beautifully by some dedicated parents and classmates. The theme was "Enchanted Evening." No one was more deserving of the title of Prom Queen than Raina, when she was crowned after all of the juniors were presented.
It had taken some juggling of schedules, and pushing my travel plans up a week, but I am so grateful I was able to attend Bridger's prom. The highlight of this mom's night was dancing with her dapper son. It was an Enchanted Evening, indeed.
Some of my photos from the evening...