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Not Every Student Loves Prom

Prom season is almost upon us – but it’s not just grumpy old gits who might not be looking forward to the celebrations, says Tom Starkey...

  • Not Every Student Loves Prom

I don’t get ‘prom’ in schools. Well…I get it – it’s a disco that’s a bit too full of itself – what I mean to say is that I don’t get why the model has been adopted by so many seemingly otherwise sane educational establishments up and down the country.

From the gravity-defying hair to the even-more-gravity-defying eyebrows, from the stretch limousines (that Dylan’s dad will have to be paying the excess for due to the fact that Dylan has given the interior an impromptu redecoration thanks to a sharp turn and a champagne glass full of what I’m going to assume is Vimto) to the stretched out goodbyes from Charlene who, after giving you nothing but grief for the last 12 terms, has decided that this has been the best time of her life and you were ‘always alright sir’ as she breaks into floods using your shoulder to wipe her eyes, nose, and about a clear metric ton of foundation onto your jacket

Now… for those who are about to accuse me of being a sour old git, you’re completely right, I am.

School life has enough built-in drama every single day that an overblown season finale of tears, social awkwardness, attempts at illicit drunkenness and (my mind recoils in horror at this) hugging is enough to get that shark jumping right out of the pool.

Worst. Episode. Everrrrr.

I think some of it must be the fact that I’m getting on.

This was my prom when I was a young whippersnapper: an assembly, a bit of hanging about and then getting escorted off the grounds with the gate rapidly locked behind us in case we went on to wreck the joint.

Those, my children, were the days.

It’s true that a lot of my confusion as to the popularity of prom as it is now, goes back to what my own school days were like – by the end of them I wanted OUT. I wanted it DONE.

That key turning in the lock was the sweetest sound to me. There was no fond reminiscing about that time in double science or when so and so did this and that.

My own school days were a fairly low-key yet constant battle to get as much into my head as humanly possible so that I could use it to get as far away from the damn place as I could.

If, at that time, they’d been an event the likes of which we see now, I would have laughed, told them to stick their prom right up their punch bowl and run for the hills as fast as my red leather FILAs would carry me.

Because for me, like so many kids through the annals, like so many now (even though teachers do their damnedest not to make it so) school was a trial. And when it finished, I felt nothing but an enormous sense of relief.

But that’s me and my history, and I’ve tried not to let it colour the person I am today. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you allow your own school experience to define the person you become, then you’re chained to the shadow of the past.

So perhaps I should embrace prom in all its garish glory, its ill-fitting suits and stuttered goodbyes, the numerous ironic ‘see you next year… no wait – no I won’t!’ jokes.

I also think that for a lot of kids, ‘prom’ represents a celebration of a different kind. Not of looking back at the great times, but of the fact that they have survived. That they have gotten through it. That it’s come to an end and they can move on, unshackled, to whatever light they have in front of them.

The school experience is different for everyone. I don’t get prom, but others love it (they’re daft, clearly, but still).

However, it’s a sad fact that when it comes to school, not everyone gets invited to the party.

Try to keep an eye out for those who don’t (whilst scrubbing Charlene’s warpaint off your duds).

Thanks for reading.


Tom Starkey is a teacher and writer who blogs at stackofmarking.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tstarkey1212.

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