The ACLU is suing the Mississippi school board to reinstate the prom, saying now that the dance was taken away from the entire school, they must fight for the rights of all the students to have their senior prom.
This case has stuck with me since I first read it. I couldn’t help but think back on my experiences in high school, the injustice I witnessed first hand, and the continuing grief I have for not doing anything about it.
I went to an all girls Catholic School. During my senior year, a set of twins were our class President & VP. They were awesome people, liked by most in the class. But they had a problem: their parents didn’t finishing paying for their tuition for the year.
I remember getting fitted for my graduation dress, all of us in a line waiting our turn, and overhearing the conversation of one of the twins about the situation. The faculty had threatened to not allow her & her sister into prom unless their tuition was paid in full by the day of the event. I couldn’t understand this logic. The twins paid for their prom experience themselves: tickets, dresses, hair, limo. They wanted to have fun with their friends. Why were they being punished for the faults of their parents?
My senior prom was pretty fun. I looked smoking hot (I’d been participating in a local exercise campaign our new gym teacher had sponsored). I laughed and spent time with my friends. I danced and took pictures of everyone (including the teacher I had a crush on). It was a great night.
But, when I went to use the restroom, I happened to have a clear view of the front sign in table, a mere fifty feet away. The twins had arrived: beautiful, dates on their arms, wanting to go join their friends in the fun. Our principle, not the nicest of people (as most principles tend to be), physically stood in their way, keeping them from entering the ballroom.
And I just stood there, speechless. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I couldn’t believe it was happening. We went to a Catholic School, which supposedly preached the love of God and the compassion of Jesus. Yet, over a petty money dispute, what could have been one of the best nights of their lives was taken away from two wonderful girls.
To this day, I regret not doing something, not standing up for them in their time of need. If only trying to distract the principle, or trying to convince her to let them in. Why didn’t we band together as a class and try to pay their balance? Why didn’t we demand they be let in? Why didn’t we do something?
The simplest and easiest answer I have is we were stupid teenagers who didn’t know better. But part of me doesn’t believe that. Part of me knows it’s because, when you’re that age, you’re selfish. Only your life matters. No one wants to hear about the sorrows of others. (I didn’t tell my friends about all my family members who died when I was in school. I figured no one wanted to hear it.)
The twins didn’t come to either of the graduation ceremonies (we had two). I haven’t seen them or spoken to them about the incident.
I just don’t understand how schools can be like this: concerned with their own selfish interests and not looking out for their students, all of their students.
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