Local high school students get creative with ‘promposals’

aspecht@newsobserver.comMarch 28, 2014 

Chris Aud asked fellow Holly Springs High School student Dara Nelson to go to prom with him during a Carolina Hurricanes game on March 13.

COURTESY OF CHRIS AUD

— Daniel Savoy did everything but get down on one knee.

The 18-year-old junior at Holly Springs High School borrowed a move from the playbook of his sister’s fiance to ask his girlfriend to prom.

Savoy and Hannah Buck had been dating a solid two months, and he wanted to do something special.

So Savoy set up a fake appointment with his optometrist. He told a white lie or two to get his girlfriend to go with him during school hours. And when Dr. Adam Bryant brought Savoy and Buck into an exam room, he kept his nerves in check.

Bryant asked Savoy to read the letters on the digital eye chart. The monitor was blank.

“I can’t see it. Can you?” Savoy asked Buck.

Just then, a chart appeared on the screen. It read:

“W

ILL

YOUGO

TOPROM

WITHME?”

Buck didn’t hesitate in her response: “Yes!”

More and more high school students are getting creative to ask girls to prom. They’re orchestrating “promposals.”

Some promposals are as subtle as using pepperonis to spell out “Prom?” on a pizza. Others can involve coordination from many people and become public events.

Holly Springs High School senior Chris Aud got help from the Carolina Hurricanes to ask his girlfriend, Dara Nelson, to prom.

During a break in the action against the Buffalo Sabres on March 13, the Jumbotron flashed Aud’s request on screen: “Dara, will you go to the prom with me?”

They’ve been dating three years, so Aud expected Nelson to say yes no matter how he asked her. But Aud said the rise of social media has added to the mounting pressure on guys to impress their would-be dates with creative and original proposals.

It’s common for students to post photos from their promposal on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Students at some schools – including Holly Springs High and Middle Creek High – run Twitter accounts that keep track of promposals.

“I think there’s pressure on everyone,” Aud said. “I wish it could just be simple, but I think the expectation now is that you come up with a creative way to ask.”

For that, students have the affluent and the media to blame, says Andrea Graham, a youth culture researcher at Youth Tribes, a consulting agency in New York.

“Back in the early 2000s, when the economy was still growing rapidly, coming-of-age events such as Bat Mitvahs, Sweet Sixteens, and Quinceaneras took a decidedly extravagant turn,” said Graham, who has studied youth culture for more than 10 years.

But the trend was mostly limited to wealthy families who wanted to “out-do” everyone else, she said.

That is, until it became popular in the media.

“Bolstered by an influx of iconic teen films and TV shows depicting the perfect prom night, teens’ desires for thoughtful promposals became mainstream and expected, especially for girls,” Graham said.

The perk for guys, aside from getting a date: being able to brag about it across a range of social media platforms that make the promposal visible around the world.

Most Wake County schools have prom in May. Until then, some guys may think about crafting the perfect promposal as much as they think about their spring break plans.

Several Cary High School students have asked to read their promposal over the intercom, said Elaine Hofmann, an assistant principal at the school.

One student asked a Cary administrator to reprimand his girlfriend – as if she were in trouble – so he could surprise her with a promposal in the office, Hofmann said.

She’s convinced promposals are more about bragging rights for the guys than romance for the girls.

“It’s kind of strange because (the promposals) usually involve couples that have been together a while,” she said. “They’re not going to prom with anybody else. How can it mean that much if it’s no surprise that she’s going to say yes?”

Even so, students keep coming up with new ideas.

When Hofmann got to Cary High on Friday, she saw a student had painted the school’s “spirit bus” to ask a girl to prom.

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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