Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 15 2011

Paris, Texas

I chaperoned our Senior/Junior Prom last night, which was an explosion of bejeweled butterflies, sparkly table-pieces, itty-bitty ignored pastries, uber-high-heeled (soon to be barefoot) young ladies, and flashily-suited gents. Overall, Prom was a much classier affair than Homecoming, and I was very, very impressed with the way everyone carried themselves.

A couple thoughts:

    • Upperclassmen are different from Sophomores and Freshmen. High school students are high school students, but no matter how you look at it, Juniors are further from middle school than Sophomores are.
    • It was a night to be proud of my school in general, actually. All the administrators were there, including our principal. Our at-risk coordinator stayed to help clean up. The dancing we watched was closer to adorable middle-school dancing than bump-and-grind club dancing, everyone dressed their best, everyone was supportive of the winners of the Prom court titles, and there were no major incidents (aside from one allergic reaction culminating in an ambulance ride).
    • As proud as I was of the appropriate dancing… part of me wished we’d planned Prom-To-Dawn activities. The kids weren’t exactly quiet about the amazing after-party that was taking place starting at 11pm, and no amount of “Have a good night! Be safe!” could put me at ease about it. Part of me wanted to stand at the door handing out condoms and safe drinking pamphlets to the happy couples disappearing into the night.
    • I love love love event planning. I love bringing all the pieces together into a big to-do and feeling responsible for people having fun. But after watching my mentor teacher execute this major operation, as the faculty sponsor for the junior class… I just don’t know if I could do it here. I loved orchestrating things in the world of college, where systems run relatively smoothly and people are relatively reliable—but delegating and depending on people in my school environment usually means everything ends up falling back on the main organizer. The tickets the students bought paid for the food and the venue only—when fundraisers fell through, it meant everything else (from the extravagant decorations to the punch fountain to the chocolate fountain to the eiffel tower keychains to the free berets to the limousine for the King/Queen/Prince/Princess to the mimes–yes, MIMES) came out of this woman’s pocket. Many of her volunteers and chaperones didn’t show or left early, and she was pretty much in six places at once from 6:30 am when they started decorating to 1am when we finished cleaning up. Ho boy.
      And thankless: this woman, though incredibly well-meaning and very hard-working, is not a popular teacher with the students, and their applause was noticeably muted when the moment came to “thank the woman responsible for it all.”

    The whole thing made me really excited for next year’s prom and the one after that—I know a couple of the juniors and seniors, but I think the whole night would have meant so much more if I had been checking the tickets of all my former students. (former students?!?!)

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