Social media is upping the ante on creative ways to ask dates to prom, but at Aquin High School in Freeport, Illinois, the big dance doesn't come with the same to-ask-or-not-to-ask nerves. The private Catholic high school assigns its dates for prom Hunger Games-style — pairing junior and senior boys with girls through a lottery system. According to Today, in lieu of elaborate promposals, the boys file into the gym and one by one draw a slip of paper with the name of their assigned female date. What are the girls doing in the meantime, you may wonder? Until the boys announce the results in the form of a skit the girls must await their fate in the library; and, sadly, there is no volunteering as Tribute or Effie Trinket involved in the process.
The school's long-standing tradition dates all the way back to 1926, and was originally created by the nuns as a way to include kids from the nearby orphanage in the festivities, reports Today. The inclusive element lives on today with no one student feeling left-out or getting turned-down (the girls are obligated to accept once they are asked). While this may seem problematic on many levels, the small school with less than 100 enrolled students believes assigning dates to prom is an excellent way to build and celebrate community. "It's less of a date and more like something fun to do with your classmates," junior class adviser Michelle Gallagher told WREX.
There is no arguing that the date assignments certainly relieve some of the usual pre-prom induced anxiety, it can't be overlooked that the custom is heteronormative AF. It prescribes that the boys need to ask the girls (and leaves no room for an alternative), and disregards previous relationships between the students and sexual preference. Not to mention, that if you're old enough to vote, you're probably old enough to choose your own date to a dance. But whether you believe the date assignments, now in their 91st year, are fairly outmoded or a nice gesture, the high schoolers don't seem to feel hemmed in by the custom. Each year the student body has a choice as to whether or not to keep the tradition alive, and each year they vote in favor of this structured prom as more of a "group activity."
The students enjoy the custom, and can worry about asking their crush out to one of the other dances held throughout the year. "I think most people are in disbelief and a lot of people say they would hate it," Junior Class Adviser Michelle Gallagher told WREX. "But I think after they kind of hear the rest of the story and hear what goes into it I think a lot of people are actually intrigued by it." So, even though in hindsight the pressure of prom can help make it a memorable experience, perhaps the high school years are cruel enough, without the pressure to find the perfect date for prom.