FREEPORT, Ill. – A small Illinois Catholic school is continuing a nearly century long tradition of picking prom dates by random draw.
Each year, juniors and seniors at Aquin Catholic High School hold a vote to determine whether or not to keep the school’s annual prom tradition alive, and every year students have agreed to be paired with their classmates for the big dance through a random lottery, the Freeport Journal Standard reports.
“It’s a cool thing that we do by choosing to keep with tradition each year,” junior Sedona Smith told the news site. “I’m excited to have something to tell my own kids someday, and for those of us as junior and seniors, we are already like family and something like this just brings us closer.”
This year, boys gathered in the school’s library dressed in goofy costumes or formal attire to draw names for their dates while the girls waited in the gymnasium to learn their fate. The boys then put on a series of skits before each takes a turn asking their date to prom.
“The students like the tradition of the prom draw and it takes away the nervousness of finding a date and they all just get to enjoy the evening of the prom,” school spokeswoman Laura Diemer.
Diemer told the Journal Standard the tradition started in the 1920s, when nuns who ran an orphanage across the street from the school come up with the idea. The annual event gradually grew to include the skits, as well as gift bags girls present to their dates.
“I think most people are in disbelief and a lot of people say they would hate it,” junior class advisor 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.
“It’s less of a date and more like something fun to do with your classmates,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter who I get because we are all friends anyway,” senior Samantha Grinnell told the Journal Standard.
Junior Cooper Arndt said he’d rather draw his date at random than seek one out on his own because the tradition helps to make the prom “one big family event.” A total of 48 students at the school will participate in the 2017 prom, and most of them have gone to school together for most of their lives, he said.
“This is my first year to go to the prom and I just see it as another way for the Aquin community to be together to do something special,” Arndt said.
Diemer said the May 5 prom will include a Grand March at 8 p.m. leading into the dance at the Aquin auditorium.
Students also received dance cards once they arrive, another tradition designed to strengthen the bond between classmates.
“Our prom consists of pre-prom pictures at a local landmark, and then they go to dinner as a group,” Diemer said. “Each boy attending the prom has a dance card filled with five of their friend’s names. Their date has a dance with each of the gentlemen listed on their card. As you can see, this unique evening is filled with fun, friendship and dancing.”