How the focus of prom has evolved over the past century


Nichole Voss

The theme for prom 2022 was “Enchanted Forest.” June 3, 2022.

Prom, as we know it, has been around for nearly a century. According to Time’s “Brief History of the Prom,” the earliest dated prom goes back to the coed banquets held in the late 19th century when prom was known as a “promenade.” The original conception for the event involved a ballroom dance with tea and other formals to celebrate the becoming of young men and women at the graduation of one’s college education.

Now, prom has become a popular high school tradition many seniors look forward to at the end of their senior year. It’s considered by many to be the event of the year, involving scrambling to find the best dress that won’t break the bank, rushing to find a date out of fear of showing up alone for a five-hour dance and “promposals,” a sign guys typically make, often with a cheesy or witty slogan presented to their dates.

P-CEP’s 2023 prom on June 1 will return to Suburban Collection Showcase in Novi, a convention and conference center where prom has routinely been held since 2012 with the exceptions of 2020, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2021, when prom was held outdoors in downtown Plymouth. 

“Most of the reason we hold the event at the Suburban Collection Showcase is mainly because of the historical context,” said Nichole Voss, a biology teacher at Plymouth High School. “I think a lot of people enjoy coming back to the same place every year, as opposed to our school building.”

Voss stated expectations are that ticket sales will be slow at first.“Then, seniors realize that they gotta get their tickets. We anticipate about 1,400 ticket sales this year.”

Voss has taught at Plymouth High School for seven years and has been on the prom administration since 2020. She loves the work of planning a fun event for seniors and herself to enjoy. This year’s theme is Starry Night.

According to Ypulse, an estimated 57% of high school seniors said that they would prefer to attend prom with friends rather than a date, compared to 46% of respondents in 2018. 

“It’s definitely more common for students to go with a group,” said Voss. “I think the majority of what we see is that even if people are coming with a date, they’re still coming with a big group of friends.”

Coming with a big group of friends is becoming more common for seniors at prom, even if students are already taking a date.

“I think it’s totally acceptable if you want to take a date or go with a group,” said Alex Carter, Salem senior.  “Honestly, whatever makes you the most comfortable and ready to have a good time is best.”

Jacob Hall, Salem senior, stated people should drop the stigma around attending prom alone as well as the immense pressure for students to find a date.

“It doesn’t matter if you [have] a date or not,” said Hall. 

Seniors also expressed that the main reason they go to prom isn’t necessarily to have some romantic occasion. That’s not to say that students don’t celebrate their significant others at prom, but that the romance is instead one part of a larger picture now. Students commonly join groups with their dates, just go to see friends and have a good time. 

“I’m mostly looking forward to ending high school on a really good note,” said Carter. “I am looking forward to spending it with close [friends] of mine.”