In Kids & Family Commentary

It's supposed to be magical...but is it worth the price tag?

Should we pass on prom?

This is an exciting time of the year. We have just left behind the brutal winter snow and cold, and are entering the comfortable, welcoming arms of spring. The grass is swelling green with pride, as spring sports teams emerge from the cramped gym facilities to practice and play out on the fields. While everyone regains that spring in their step, another excitement arises for juniors and seniors in high school. It's prom season, one of the most memorable events of the high school years.

Prom has always had a certain mystique for high school students. Expectations are high for whatever may happen, and everyone is excited for this one night. Numerous movies have documented prom stories or prom nightmares, such as the recent release "Prom Night," about a killer on rampage during the dance.

Nightmares aside, prom is meant to be one of the most memorable and fun experiences of high school. But recently, the ticket price has shot through the roof. It's supposed to be fun, but at what cost?

This year, I will be attending two proms:, one for Arrowhead High School and the other for my school, Menomonee Falls High School, with a gorgeous young lady. However, with this extra helping of fun and excitement comes a one-two punch to our bank accounts.

Jess, my date, is spending around $400 to go to just her prom at Arrowhead. This includes the dress, her ticket, jewelry, nails, and hair for the event. Personally, I will be spending around $200 for her prom. That amounts to $600 for one evening, and that's only to go to one prom!

Now, my reason for sharing this information is to show just how expensive prom has become and also to pose the question about whether it is truly worth it for the sake of a night of memories.

Drew, 18, attended prom last year as a senior. "I spent around $250 on the entire evening. It was a good experience and it was a lot of fun." When asked if he would go again this year, he said, "No. It was fun, but almost not worth the cost and the hassle of organizing pictures, dresses and a tux, and everything else."

Tony, 17, went to prom as a sophomore last year. "My date, as a junior, paid for both tickets, but I still needed a tuxedo and flowers, which ran me around $150. The place we went to seemed very small, and the food was bad." In spite of all these faults, Tony said, "Just the sensation of it being prom made the night fun."

As I continue to discuss the many aspects of prom with my friends, I have found that we all feel obligated to attend this event. Prom has become the "can't-miss" night of a teen's high school career. It has been hammered into the high school culture and isn't going anywhere. Regardless of cost or hassle, students are drawn to the mystique of prom, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. It's a chance to make a memory, and who can pass on that?


brunocarlson | April 27, 2008 at 10:05 a.m. (report)

As a former Arrowhead graduate, it was customary to buy the ticket for your lady and buy your ticket for her school's prom. It would be the gentleman-like thing to do. But I had a job bagging groceries at the Red Owl in town. Plus, each ticket was $50 bucks. Plus, her prom, Pewaukee, was very boring in comparison to mine. I still don't understand why champagne glasses were the "gift" of the occasion. Just remember, the pictures and memories will be stuffed in a box in the back of your closet when you both run off to college. Spend wisely.

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