Celebration and the transition of youth
The school year has come to an end and there are proms for seniors graduating and heading to new phases of life.
Proms are celebrations of that transition. Teenagers get dressed up and say goodbye to their schools and friends. Here in The Bahamas, proms have increasingly become theatrical and spectator sports of the bizarre and excessive.
Some teens go as far as riding in horse-drawn carriages or being accompanied by mini-Junkanoo rushouts or bands as they make their entrances to the event. Many families spend thousands of dollars on outfits, limos and other theatrics in order to ensure their children are well-watched spectacles for one day.
At some proms hundreds of people gather on the outside of hotels to watch the entrances. The characters with the best concepts get the most cheers.
There is nothing wrong with a celebration of the end of a long journey. However, many of the children obsessed with being stars at the prom have poor levels of achievement. They did not put as much effort into school and learning as they did becoming the biggest attraction on prom night. And after prom night, they go off to unemployment.
In some instances, some schools have policies stating that if students don’t reach certain achievement standards they cannot attend proms. This should be the case across the board. Those who are not graduating should not be able to attend. Too many of our teens leave high school with only certificates of attendance due to poor performance.
As a culture we must demand more of our children and place focus on the meaningful rather than the trivial. Parents who spend so much on prom night are often the ones who never inquired about the child’s schoolwork, never attended a parent-teacher meeting and never knew any of the child’s teachers.
We often blame schools for the poor level of achievement in The Bahamas. There is much improvement needed in the Bahamian public education system. However, the greatest factors behind successful children are family support and standards at home.
In the case of the prom stars, they are being supported toward buffoonery with louder and louder cheers for increasingly bizarre behavior. If that support went toward reading, comprehension of mathematics and school attendance, those children would have a better chance at being rational, productive citizens able to understand their community and find work.