There is a certain aura surrounding high-school “prom.” Movies and shows like the climax of Footloose or an episode of Riverdale form a stereotype and standard: over-dressed girls taking pictures with other girls, two best friends wearing Ray-Bans on an overcast day, and the Fifth Former arriving late, forced to take the boutonniere photo over in the corner.
Prom represents the essence of high-school students trying their best to imitate the formality of a wedding. Homecoming, on the other hand, does the opposite.
As I walked into the wrestling room on October 26th, I felt like I was walking into the Haverford School State Fair. One girl I had not talked to since middle school immediately ran up to me and picked up our last conversation right where it had left off. We hugged, then parted ways. Two steps forward, I ran into my Danish friends who appeared to be cosplaying the Beatles on the cover of The U.S. Albums box set. When I glanced up, my best friend was on stage wearing a tie-dye shirt playing “Mr. Brightside.” Later on, the band was outside the bathroom, posing for the next NSYNC album cover by the rail. Everywhere, suits were matching unintentionally.
I loved every minute of this inaugural event. I felt at home with each buzz and jeer. I am sure that my experience at Haverford, all thirteen moon-cycles, played a large role in just how much I got out of it.
As the night wound down, conversations began shifting to where people were heading afterward. Teachers and students alike counted down until 9:00 when the doors would open the other way.
Unlike prom, the whole tone felt school-endorsed. If you browbeat students into a falsified sense of formality and structure, you are essentially asking for the movie-esque drama that goes along with it. Conversely, when a massive show of school pride is put on with no real commitment or pressure put on the students, positive results follow. The essence of our culture builds up gradually throughout the day until the breaking point where fireworks go off, streamers fall, and sleep-deprived students enjoy themselves for six consecutive hours. Homecoming, obviously, does not compete with prom, but it did end up achieving a sense of truth and reality. It was more us.