How promised is prom?


The rows of Fashion Elegance, located on Western Ave in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, are stocked with an assortment of dresses for students to pick from. (Photo courtesy of Eli Windy)

By Julia Schuurman, Features Editor

As prom season inches closer, many girls such as Isabella Lacey are walking into dress stores like Grisel’s, near the Kimball Brown Line, in hopes of finding a dress perfect enough to wear on the big night.

Luckily for Lacey, Div. 958, she fell in love with the first dress she tried on and ended up taking it home later that same day.

Besides her dress, Lacey is most excited for her senior class’s last moment of high school together — prom night itself.

However, before she can secure the rest of her details for the big night, Lacey has to make sure she is actually eligible to attend.

“For me personally, I’m probably going to have to fight the administration for my attendance,” Lacey said.

According to one of the 2019 prom eligibility requirements, students must have at least a 95 percent attendance rate in order to be eligible to attend prom. This limits the amount of days students can miss for illnesses.

“I get sick really easily because I have a really weak immune system. I was just out two days for an ear-throat illness that I had,” Lacey said.

Along with a 95 percent attendance rate, students must have no more than 19 demerits, have zero senior debts as of April 27, have completed 40 or more service hours, have completed FAFSA and be medically compliant.

These requirements have raised various concerns ranging from unavoidable sick days to financial struggles among students.

“If you’re sick and you need to come to school to make sure your attendance is high enough to go to prom, you just risk getting everyone else sick and making it harder for them to go,” said Erika Cambron, Div. 963, a senior planning on attending prom.

Another concern regarding prom is affordability. Families must have all debts paid before April 27, or their child will not be eligible to attend prom. The 2019 prom ticket alone is $110. The price of the 2019 prom ticket rose $10 from 2018 due to increases in charges for certain services from vendors as well as the need for more photobooth services, according to Ms. Shafqat, a senior class sponsor.

In addition to the ticket, dresses and suits tend to be big investments, along with shoes, hair, makeup, nails, accessories and transportation. According to a Visa survey conducted in 2015, American families on average spend $919 on prom expenses. However, families can reduce the expenses of prom in various ways, such as renting a prom dress, borrowing shoes or doing hair and makeup at home.

Nevertheless, students and their families still feel the importance of prom. For Cambron, prom feels like the grand finale of all of her hard work in school and is a staple of American tradition that she cannot picture herself missing.

“I’ve been going to school for 12 years,” Cambron said.  “I’m definitely going to prom. I deserve to go.”

Prom is set for June 8, the weekend before graduation. Emails regarding prom eligibility were sent in late February, where students could sign up for demerit reduction plans in order to cut down to 19 demerits before April 27.

Olivia Milani, Div. 959, said that although she’s excited for her big night, she would change the requirements to be more accommodating to a wider population of the senior class.

“I think everyone should be able to go to their senior prom no matter what,” Milani said.

As of now, attending tutoring sessions and after school detentions can reduce demerits that have accumulated from absences and tardies. The deadline for signing up for a demerit reduction plan, however, was March 18.

Prom is still set to be held on Saturday, June 8, at The Sheraton downtown. The estimated attendance for prom is being calculated by senior class officers and sponsors from student responses to a prom interest form emailed to seniors on March 15.

In the meantime, seniors were sent an updated email regarding their prom eligibility status on March 28th, leaving students scrambling to attend tutoring sessions and after school detentions in demerit reduction plan efforts to become eligible.

It feels like the administration is trying to take away something that’s supposed to be our moment and our event,” Lacey said.