High school's quirky tradition randomly pairs prom dates

Students at the high school choose to participate in the process each year.

ByABC News
March 23, 2017, 3:48 PM
Students at Aquin Catholic High School choose their prom dates through a random lottery and celebrate with a series of skits.
Students at Aquin Catholic High School choose their prom dates through a random lottery and celebrate with a series of skits.
Maggie Bald

— -- Asking the right person to prom can be a stressful task in any teenager’s life, especially in an age of elaborate, viral “promposals.” But for students at one high school in Illinois, prom dates are left up to fate.

The “prom draw,” held at Aquin Catholic High School in Freeport, randomly chooses each student’s date for them. It’s been a tradition at the school for more than 90 years and began as a way to include children from a nearby orphanage in the celebration.

“They love it,” Superintendent Rosemarie Brubaker told ABC News, adding that younger students have even written in class assignments about how excited they are to one day participate in the tradition.

Junior and senior boys gather in the library, where girls’ names are put into a sort of bingo spinner, Brubaker said. Each boy is randomly assigned a girl’s name through this method, and then they go to the gym, where the girls are waiting. The boys then perform skits that reveal their date in a funny or clever way. The girls also wear bags on their heads -- each year with a different theme, this year adorned with silly photos of the boys -- so they don't see their date until the right moment.

“They get very excited about their skits and what they’re going to do,” Brubaker said. “We have tons of grandparents and parents and alumni that flood in [to watch]. It’s such a positive and fun experience.”

"[The skits are] usually something to do with the school," Maggie Bald, a junior at Aquin, told ABC News. "This year one of the funniest ones was [when] each boy ... imitated a teacher, which was really funny."

The school does run into situations in which there are uneven numbers of boys and girls in the junior and senior classes. In these cases, Brubaker said, the school will randomly select students from younger grades who have obtained parental permission.

Though some may think this method of selecting dates for students is questionable -- the school received some pushback online after word spread -- the students continue to choose this option.

“The kids have a choice every year,” Brubaker said. “Collectively as a group, they can choose to bring outside dates or continue the tradition of [the] prom draw. Every year they choose prom draw. It is something they’ve been looking forward to.”

Bald, 17, agreed. She is the third generation of her family to participate in Aquin's tradition, and she said she wouldn't have it any other way.

"Aquin has a ... family atmosphere," she said. "There are only 26 couples, I think, going to prom this year. I've gone to school with all my classmates mostly since kindergarten. We're all like brothers and sisters."