FEATURE: Elite Event

Debate emerges over prom participants
In shock, senior Tehya Jacobs receives a hug from Lawrence High School senior Aubrie Magnuson after Jacobs is announced as Prom Royalty alongside senior Nolan Craig.
In shock, senior Tehya Jacobs receives a hug from Lawrence High School senior Aubrie Magnuson after Jacobs is announced as Prom Royalty alongside senior Nolan Craig.
Anders Benson

For many seniors, prom is the highlight of their high school years. It serves as a symbol of four years of friendship, memories and school spirit. Juniors interested in sharing the prom experience, however, are dependent on being invited by a senior in order to attend. 

While the senior-centered nature of Free State’s prom may leave uninvited underclassmen feeling excluded, that exclusivity is what makes prom so special for seniors.

Junior Gayla Gao, who has attended prom since her sophomore year, said that a junior-inclusive prom would diminish the prestige of the Free State milestone event as it has always been seniors only. 

I like the fact that it’s seniors only; it brings a kind of exclusivity that makes prom exciting. It’s an event that is meant to be a culmination of our four years at high school. Part of its charm is the fact that it’s mostly seniors,” Gao said. 

Free State senior Ryan Morgan agreed with Gao, and said that holding a senior-only prom serves as a “last hurrah” before graduation. Morgan also noted that everyone starts as freshmen at the bottom of the totem pole, so it can be argued that seniors exclusively enjoy this privilege because it’s their turn to do so. 

Despite both high schools in Lawrence holding senior-only proms, schools in the surrounding area, such as Kearney High School in Kearney, Missouri, and Liberty High School in Liberty, Missouri, hold proms that both juniors and seniors can attend, regardless of whether they have been invited by a senior. 

According to Kearney High School junior Keanna Baxter, the junior-inclusive approach to prom at her school has many benefits.

It is significant for juniors as well as seniors, because it’s the juniors first time to get dressed up and have the thrill of a fancy night out,” Baxter said. 

Morgan, who is a part of STUCO at Free State, did not think that adopting the more inclusive model would end up changing much anyway as many juniors already attend prom as guests of seniors. 

Although the social aspect of prom gets the most attention in this discussion, Baxter noted that her school’s “bigger is better” model has other benefits as well. Baxter claimed that including all juniors in prom increases the number of students buying tickets, resulting in greater resources available for making the event fun and memorable. 

On the other hand, schools might prefer the more exclusive approach due to safety issues–both during and especially after the dance, when schools have no control over the actions of their students. 

To Baxter and her school community, the more students at prom, the merrier. Baxter said she views prom as one of the biggest events in high school as well as a monumental night for having fun. 

Baxter, Gao and Morgan all expressed a preference for their school’s current prom policy to stay in place, despite their schools’ different approaches. Prom is, after all, an event that draws on school traditions.

For the time being in regards to Free State’s prom, the seniors that attend are in charge of deciding who accompanies them, and any underclassmen wanting a golden ticket will have to rely on befriending a senior benefactor.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Delaney Bayliss
Delaney Bayliss, Reporter
Delaney Bayliss is a junior and a reporter on staff. She has been a member of the Free State choir program as well as the girl's soccer program for 3 years. Outside of journalism, Delaney enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with friends.
Anders Benson
Anders Benson, Photographer
Anders Benson is a sophomore and a photographer for Free State Journalism! He is involved around the school in drumline, choir, and theater. Outside of school, he enjoys singing, playing music, and learning about life.
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Free Press Online Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *