Why This High School Doesn't Let Teens Pick Their Own Prom Dates

prom draw
Donna Ellen Coleman/Shutterstock

With prom season fast approaching, the whole affair may bring up a range of emotions for teens. There's (in no particular order): fear of not being asked, fear of being asked by someone you don't like, fear of rejection if you're brave enough to put yourself out there, and just general anxiety about all those unknowns swirling together. In an effort to avoid any prom drama, one school in Illinois has taken a novel, if not unusual, approach: Prom dates are chosen at random as male students pull names from a hat, and their dates wait in the gym to find out who will escort them. Say what?

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In an attempt to make sure no teen feels left out, students at Aquin High School in Freeport, Illinois, have had their prom dates picked via lottery for years. According to Today, the tradition dates back to 1926, and it came about as a way to include children living at an orphanage across the street that neighbored the school. Without this method of inclusion, the kids at the orphanage wouldn't have had a chance to attend the dance. That makes it seem like a kind gesture, right?

But what if you had your heart set on going with the date of your choice? Initially, you kind of get an "oh-no-it's-like-an-arranged-marriage!" vibe from this method. Or maybe your kids didn't want to go at all, or they wanted to attend with same-sex dates? This tradition sort of leaves out all of those options.

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And, just think, if this practice existed everywhere, we wouldn't have films like Carrie, Pretty in Pink, and 10 Things I Hate About You, in which prom drama that so many kids can relate to takes center stage. It seems almost like the angst that comes along with finding a date, picking out a dress, and remembering to order that corsage is a hard-won rite of passage. This tradition removes a lot of that excitement, even though it also takes away plenty of stress. 

We're not the only ones who think this idea wouldn't fly with every high school. Today took a poll on Twitter, and the concept of raffling off prom dates was met with a resounding "NO!"

Prom raffle
TODAYshow/Twitter

But, while the idea might seem antiquated and flat-out weird to most of us, students at the school actually seem to be really into it.

prom draw
maggieisbald/Twitter
If the kids get to vote on this, at least we know it's what the majority feels good about. It's definitely an interesting way to meet someone new. Even though it's a small class, chances are you might not know everyone well, and this is a unique opportunity to hang out with someone you might otherwise not have met.

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With graduation approaching, getting everyone together for a night of fun is a great way to celebrate no matter how dates are chosen. Maggie Bald, the student who tweeted in support of her school's tradition, told Today other events exist throughout the year in which you can choose your own date.

Plus, plenty of teens end up ditching their dates to hang out with their BFFs at proms anyway. Or, as it often works with teens, the person you were crushing on in April isn't the person you're into by early June when prom rolls around. So, kids may be on the prowl for a new companion anyway. 

While this tradition might not work for every school, if the kids at Aquin High School are into it, we say, "Have fun!"

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