Kirkwood High School student newspaper

Call Ed: Dancing and the reign

Leading up to prom, the senior class has the opportunity to nominate their peers who display high levels of excellence. Though the nomination process is meant to be open to all students, some argue the system is exclusive and should be eliminated at KHS. However, with the fun and lighthearted aspects of the nomination system, 70 percent (63/90) of TKC staff believes KHS should continue to have a prom court.

March 8, 2019

As the unforgiving winter weather comes to an end, spring arrives, bringing about the annual conversation of prom. Whether it is shopping for a dress during class online, trying to find a date or planning the perfect promposal, prom is the topic of discussion for juniors and seniors at KHS. Along with these preparations comes the process of determining who will reign on prom court, and who will be crowned prom king and queen.

Prom, just like Kirkwood, is built off of tradition. From the Greentree Festival to the annual Turkey Day Game against Webster Groves High School, community is a fundamental aspect of Kirkwood. According to Dr. Michael Havener, KHS principal, the 16 students on court must be seniors and must be nominated by their class. During the middle of the dance, the court is is announced and one male and female are declared king and queen. Though the nomination process is intended to be an enjoyable experience, some criticize that it excludes same-sex couples and students who do not identify as male or female and thus cannot accept the title as “king” or  “queen.” However, according to Havener, if a student who does not identify with a specific gender is nominated as a prom court winner, the administration will announce the student under the title in which they are comfortable with. According to The Washington Post, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, Maryland, adopted a gender-neutral homecoming court to move away from the practice of establishing one boy as “king” and one girl as “queen.” With this system, the student body votes for two classmates from a ballot of finalists, with the top two students, despite their gender, being crowned as the winners.This decision promoted inclusion for all students to participate in the homecoming court nominating process while also appealing to students who enjoyed the original system. The existence of prom court should not have to be a yes or no decision on whether to keep or eliminate it. Instead, the  system should be a compromise that is inclusive to all students while also holding the traditional elements of having a prom court.

In the end, the students who are nominated onto court are not more or less valuable than the rest of the student body. ”

Just like in movies such as “Pretty in Pink” or “Never Been Kissed,” prom court contributes a fun and central element to the dance. Seventy-one percent (206/292) of KHS students agree that we should to continue to have a prom court. The court’s purpose is to add an element of fun and class unity to the prom, not to promote exclusion. As students, we already have to face competition when it comes to  ACT scores, class rank and applying to colleges. We should not continue to add unnecessary stress to competitions that are meant to be enjoyable, such as school dances. After all, it’s not like the prom king and queen are winning an all-paid trip to Europe: they win a plastic crown, bragging rights and a potential photo opportunity for their social media feed, things that students should not have on the top of their priority list.  

Though prom court has an on-screen reputation of being an exclusive popularity contest, any student has an equal chance to be nominated onto court. Unlike homecoming court, which requires students to be involved in a sport or organization in order be nominated, students do not have to participate in a school organization to be on prom court. Although the students who are nominated for court are typically individuals who have shown some form of excellence or involvement at KHS, we must not forget that the nominees are not hand-picked by students or staff, but voted on by their class. Rather than generalizing prom court as a popularity contest, we should use it as a platform to celebrate students the senior class deems as involved and well liked to their peers. In the end, the students who are nominated onto court are not more or less valuable than the rest of the student body.

Prom should be a night where students are able to enjoy and celebrate their class and time at KHS. We should be able to keep the fun and traditional role of prom court while also being mindful of the inclusion of all students. Prom court is just one of many elements of the “high school experience.” It is something that should not be interpreted as an exclusive competition, but as an enjoyable event for students to remember.

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