Prom expectations vs reality: students discuss

Hadley Hoskins

Sam Klein
Print/Podcast Editor

Seniors Owen Veech and Peter Hebison look at Planetarium decorations at prom on April 15. Photo by Soledad Lee

Senior prom was held at the Planetarium on April 15, from 7:30 to 10 p.m., after a delay due to severe weather. The event was open to seniors and their guests.

Prom has been glorified in different types of media for years– photos of prom on Instagram feeds or videos on TikTok, movies centered around the event, and the idea that it’s the defining moment for a class creates high expectations for the night.

“It kind of feels like one last big push for the whole grade…I feel like this is like the big last thing you do with your class before you graduate really,” senior Luke Hedenburg said.

For students, prom means months of planning– including buying dresses and suits, coordinating with friends and scheduling out what the day will look like.

“Getting a spray tan, getting my nails done and talking to everyone in the group I’m going with to make sure we’re not, like, wearing the same dress,” senior Ellie Keegan said about how she prepared for prom.

Senior Spencer Willman said he began setting up arrangements for his tuxedo four months in advance. Others, like senior Kaz Bergman, said he rented his tuxedo two weeks before.

Despite its portrayal in media, students said they expected prom to be like most other school dances.

“Honestly, I expect it to be like the regular homecomings, where everybody just goes to say they went,” Willman said.

“I’m expecting it to be very crowded, very smooshed, a lot of people,” said senior Maren Quentus.

Despite their low expectations for the event, students said they were looking forward to other parts, such as getting ready and the attire. Long dresses are much more common at prom compared to other dances such as the Friendship Dance.

“We get to wear long dresses… that’s mostly what I’m excited for,” senior Annemarie Sweeney said.

“I’m excited to see everyone all dressed up, because I feel like that’s very rare, other than, like, homecoming,” Quentus said.

“The getting ready– that’s always the most fun part,” Keegan said.

Others said that getting ready was one of the more stressful parts of prom.

“Some of the prep stuff isn’t so fun, you know, because you want to hangout with as many of your people that you can and obviously that’s not how it works when you’re trying to do it in one group, so I think some of that is probably the worst part about it. I wouldn’t say it’s too bad,” Hedenburg said.

“It’s kind of stressful leading up to it,” Sweeney said. “It’s supposed to be fun, but to plan when I’m going to get ready, when I’m going to get there, to make sure I’m on time for everything, can be stressful.”

“I feel like for girls, you want to look perfect, you want the pictures to look perfect,” senior Tori Gray said.

In addition to the stress of getting ready and making plans, the national weather service issued a tornado warning 6 to 8 p.m. Rain, strong winds and even hail affected students’ plans for the night.

“We went and got dinner and it started getting really bad and stormy, so we ran to my car,” Gray said. “It was really scary.”

“[When the tornado sirens went off] I was on the highway. Honestly, the most stressful part was parking with the tornado. It was pretty bad,” senior Jake Staab said.

The start of the dance was delayed until 7:30 p.m. due to the storm.

Despite the stress and planning that went into the night, most students said they stayed for around two hours, and it was mostly what they expected.

“Yeah it was about [what I expected],” said Staab.

“The dance circle was pretty fun,” said senior Will Kaupp.

“It was like, really pretty when we first walked in. They had a UV light when you went in, and there were a lot of people dancing, and then there were a lot of people around the whole planetarium itself,” Gray said. She added there were lots of activities, such as a photobooth.

About their experience, Staab said, “Overall, it was a good experience.”

“My favorite part was just being able to be with my friends and take pictures and have fun with all the seniors for a night,” Gray said.

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