The Senior Prom(ise)

By FRANK JIANG, senior

By the time you read this article, the flushed faces, pampered hair, and classy dresses of prom will have disappeared, leaving behind a normalcy governed by t-shirts and shorts. An evening of photos that have smiles permanently etched onto faces, plans that were thought of last-minute and assembles last-second, and post prom parties that were planned spontaneously will have become an experience relived only through fond memories and Facebook photo albums. But for now I sit here in my tuxedo, awaiting the first of my friends for an hour of pre-prom pictures before a limo whisks us away to prom.

Writing this article now has given me the opportunity to explore a different perspective, one reflective of the process rather than just the event. And that process has taken me from the past couple of days to the past few weeks to the past few months and finally, to the past four years here at JP.

“I feel like it’s all hype,” Kaitlin Liu declared in gym. “In the movies, prom always seems perfect, but it’s really just a dance and everyone will go, but everyone’s also just going to stick with their friends.” Steven Bennett agreed, saying it is “better to go in with no expectations.”

But even so, others found deeper meaning to the event. Revathi Mekala told me about how she’d put on a mud mask the day before. “Just putting that on made me remember all the fun I had before the eighth grade dance. I mean, you can hang out with your friends all the time, but the moments before a really big event are even more special. Doing each other’s hair to taking selfies — those are the moments that really make prom ‘prom.’”

So in the midst of all these opinions, what’s the truth? Is prom really just an overrated social gathering, or is it something better? I asked more people for their thoughts, and received a number of different answers. Prom, it seemed, couldn’t be pinned down to any one thing.

When I looked back at what everyone had said, I found a common theme — one of friendship. This might be a night when the whole senior class comes together, as Kaitlin said, but it’s also one we celebrate with our friends. And what makes prom better than the selfies and photos that Revathi and others will take? Or the laughter and excitement we’ll share with those we are closest to?

College might separate us, and prom might mark the conclusion of some of the friendships we have built through the years. But prom, by no means, is the end of high school itself — instead, it gives us an opportunity to look back and reflect, at the people, the experiences, and the memories that have characterized these last four years at JP. And so prom becomes more than just an evening promenade, but a promise from us to each other. In five, ten, or even fifty years, prom won’t be remembered by what dress someone wore or what songs the DJ blasted, but for the friends we celebrated with, the memories we created.

The doorbell rings, and my friend Alex Chang walks in through the front door. “You ready?” he asks, motioning for me to go outside. I stand up and straighten my tux. “You bet.”

Note: everyone interviewed in this article is in the Class of 2013.

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