High School Assigns Prom Dates In A Lottery Every Year

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via TODAY

The students have drawn names for their prom dates every year since 1926

An Illinois high school has an unconventional approach to the time-honored tradition of prom. Instead of letting kids pick their own dates, they do a “draw” and though it sounds totally outlandish, the students at this school are definitely there for it.

Every year since 1926, the juniors and seniors at Aquin High School in Freeport, Illinois have gotten their prom dates through luck of the draw. According to TODAY, the long-standing tradition is a huge hit with students. Junior Maggie Bald says, “I am the third generation of my family to participate in the prom draw. Having a school of less than 100 students, we are more like a family.”

Bald further explains that at their school, “It doesn’t matter who draws which name. We get along with everyone. Since 90 percent of us have been going to school together since kindergarten, we are very close.” Bald was even pulled as a sophomore when the number of students was uneven, something the school does any time there’s an odd number.

The tradition began at the Catholic school as a way to include students from the orphanage across the street who wouldn’t have a prom otherwise. The way it works is the boys go to the library on an appointed day to draw their date’s name while the girls wait in the gym. The boys then put on a skit for the girls and the dates are revealed.

Huh. Is anyone else wondering where LGBTQ students fit into this? Or those who already have a boyfriend or girlfriend?

The second part, at least, is addressed. The school tells TODAY that even students with a significant other happily participate turning prom into more of a group activity. “It’s less of a date and more like something fun to do with your classmates,” says junior class adviser Michelle Gallagher.

The school claims that every year, they ask the class if they want to do the date draw again and Bald says the answer is always a unanimous “yes.” Which is great. If this works for them and the kids aren’t complaining, that’s a good thing. We can definitely get on board with treating the prom as more of a friendly group activity than a pressure-filled date night that causes some kids to feel left out.

That said, it’s unquestionably odd for more than one reason. It wouldn’t work in a bigger school and there are several concerns with the date draw including, WTF happens if a girl is stuck with a guy who creeps her out? Or, vice versa? There’s no way that every single student gets along, year in and year out. There’s also the fact that this video shows the boys high-fiving each other after drawing and announcing their date’s name. Something about that feels gross, as though the girls are prizes with some kind of value. – Rockford’s News Leader

TODAY readers are also not on board for the most part according to this poll.

Some Twitter users cited the “participation trophy” aspect of everyone getting a date as a negative, but that’s only one issue among many. While it’s a wonderful idea to make sure no one feels left out of such a big life event and hardly comparable to an unearned baseball trophy, it’s still strange to draw a date’s name from a hat and high-five your buddies afterward.

We’re glad it works out for this school, but we don’t see many others jumping on board. High school is a time to hang out with friends, but prom is a pretty big deal. And if every kid’s included anyway, why bother drawing dates in the first place? How about making it a big party instead of putting an emphasis on dates? That idea might really catch on.

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