Opinion: Four-year prom is an important Urban tradition

Zoe Lusk, Caboose Editor

Prom can be a stressful experience. The pressure to look flawless, have a date, go to a party and experience the best night of your life can be overwhelming. Freshman year, I remember spending hours online shopping for the perfect dress. I dreaded the day of prom, thinking that I would feel like an outsider as a freshman. However, my assumptions were proven wrong. At Urban prom, tiny freshman boys with bowties could dance with junior girls in heels. I saw my classmates in floor-length gowns and fur coats bouncing around with students in sneakers.

The four-year prom at Urban fosters an environment of inclusion and increases unity among grades. As our student body has grown, divisions between grades have widened. The school even lost its legendary all-school camping trip in 1993, which served to unify the student population. As we have lost much of what made Urban unique, excluding underclassmen from prom would betray the values that Urban stood for in the past. The Urban School website lists one of our core values as promoting a “strong, inclusive community.” Separating upperclassmen and lowerclassmen for prom directly contradicts that statement and would only serve to fracture our community. Also, restricting prom to solely juniors and seniors would send the message that underclassmen are less valued within the Urban community than upperclassmen.

According to what we see represented in the media, prom is an event in which the worst of American traditions and stereotypes emerge. For students who do not quite fit into the classic idea of an American teenager, prom can be a nightmare. The overwhelming pressure to have a date of the opposite sex is stressful for anyone who doesn’t know who to bring or does not feel like their date fits into the heteronormative expectations for prom. Having prom all four years transforms Urban’s prom into a more casual event and helps many students feel completely comfortable going alone, defying the cliché of the classic prom experience.

Four-year prom also helps to relieve some of the financial strain that a big event such as prom can put on students and their families. According to a Visa survey in 2015, the average American family spent $919 on their prom-going teen. Urban students feel less pressure to spend such a large amount because having prom all four years alleviates some of the pressure to purchase extravagant outfits and pay for other costly beauty services such as hair, makeup and nails.

Four-year prom also lowers the ticket cost per person. By having a larger pool of students to pay for tickets, the school is able to hold prom at expensive venues like the Bentley Reserve while keeping the price at $90 before financial aid. Though not a small sum, this amount seems affordable compared to other private San Francisco high schools’ ticket prices.

Four-year prom creates an environment that is inclusive, unified, and celebrates all members of the Urban School instead of just upperclassmen. It also gives students four opportunities to have the prom of their dreams, instead of having to pin all of their hopes on one night.