Prom: Precious or Painful?


Art credits to Angela Pan!

Dhristi Raval ‘20

It’s that time of year again! Time for corsages and long silky dresses, for confetti and flowers, and of course, tons of adorable pictures! At Ridge High School, junior prom occurs at the end of April and senior prom occurs in mid-May, so many students have already begun planning. While many wait impatiently as they look forward to the thrills of high school prom, many others stress at the prospect of finding a date. As excitement for prom steadily increases, so does pressure to find a significant other for company. Many high schoolers fear that they will be judged and ridiculed simply for showing up to prom single or with a group of close friends.

Moreover, the anticipation of prom often causes students to participate in dangerous activities to make the night more exciting. As highlighted in the movie American Pie, many students plan to indulge in alcohol and engage in sexual activity on prom night. An AAA survey of teens aged 16 to 19, published in February 2014, found that 41 percent said it was likely that they or their friends would use drugs or alcohol on prom night. Because most juniors and seniors are able to drive and there’s pressure to drink at prom, many drunk driving accidents occur. According to Rebecca Lake, statistics show roughly a third of alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities occur between April and June, which is considered the peak of prom season.

Furthermore, the excess of drinking often puts students at other dangerous risks, such as date rape. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 1 in 5 female high school students is the victim of physical or sexual abuse at the hands of a date. Therefore, as Megana Gun ‘21 explains, “it is essential [that] students are cautious and aware on prom night.”

Many parents also have concerns about the cost of the event. According to Visa’s 2014 Prom Spending Survey, the average household spent $978 on prom-related expenses in 2014. Families from low-income households often struggle to provide their students with the luxuries of prom. While many students want to go to prom to have a good time, expenses for the event quickly add up.

However, most students at Ridge express excitement and anticipation for prom. They look forward to getting dressed up, dancing to all types of music, and admiring the elaborate decor. Commenting upon many students’ anticipation towards prom, Austin Segal ‘20 explains that “prom is a chance for students to have fun, either with a date or with friends, although it can be stressful.” Additionally, there are many parties before and after prom that high school students enjoy. From a young age, many students look forward to this event — it is incredibly popular in American culture. Iconic movies such as Mean Girls, High School Musical 3, and Footloose portray senior prom in an extremely positive and exciting light. As a result, high schoolers often look forward to participating in the event. It is a great opportunity for seniors to spend a great night together before graduation- while dancing and getting excited about their futures. The student body at Ridge spends a lot of time preparing beautiful decorations and making plans for prom, in hopes that students can enjoy their night. There are also many fundraisers to raise money for prom, to ensure that the event can be as fancy and enjoyable as possible. In additions to a dance and prom parties, many seniors at Ridge choose to rent a “prom house.” This allows students to enjoy a vacation with their close friends prior to graduation. So go make plans with your friends or your date, find that perfect dress, and get ready to dance the night away!