I am a little mystified at the price of prom at Central High School this year. In case you missed the story on page one of this week’s paper, a ticket to this year’s extravaganza will run $40 a pop. That better be a golden ticket.
Students with good grades and perfect attendance get in free. I applaud that way of thinking by the CHS administration. But in doing that, the school can’t punish those without the best of grades by raising prices on them to make up the difference and, spin it however you want, that’s exactly what’s happening.
I vaguely remember what it was like in high school. At $40 apiece my friends and I may have been inclined to throw our own party instead of attending the school-hosted bash. I’m sure kids don’t think that way nowadays, though (wink, wink).
I was lucky in the fact that I played baseball so my parents paid most of my expenses such as prom. But I’m not sure they could afford to spend much more than they already did. Tuxedos aren’t cheap, you know. And no, I did not have a limo. It was a modest event for me but it was enjoyable at the conference center, which was a special treat.
Here is something else to chew on: $40 may as well be $80 for most boys who will attend. The man is still expected to pick up the tab for his date, right? If that’s not true anymore then we have bigger societal problems than I thought. Franklin County’s prom is $45 for a couple …time to dress in Rebel red and crash that party.
To poke a few holes at the “good grades get in free, everyone else pays double” theory I want to remind you that not everyone is an A student. Some students have to work a job through high school and don’t have the strongest support network at home. I think it’s reasonable to believe that those students probably have bigger worries than perfect attendance or maintaining a 4.0. Good thing they have been earning a paycheck because they will need it.
In fact, I’m a little cash strapped myself. I’m thinking about scalping tickets in front of the school. Who knew I could make a small fortune scalping counterfeit prom tickets. Remember folks, a sign that says “need tickets” really means I’m selling some so be heads up for last minute deals. If you go in an hour late I will probably have them at half price. Then again, you could get half price tickets at Tullahoma’s prom.
But in all seriousness, the high school has some work to do here. I don’t care how bad fundraising is – tickets for prom should not be $40 apiece. If I were a student here I might just attend prom in Winchester.
The prom committee should individualize the fundraising instead of expecting a broad group to carry the load. Most students probably aren’t involved enough to realize the importance of fundraising or the impact of it until it’s too late. Each student could be issued 80 candy bars and sell them or pay the difference for the ticket – something along those lines. You sell 40 chocolate bars at a profit to the prom committee of 50 cents apiece then you owe $20 – now you have the cost of your ticket ($20) and the prom committee would be able to budget a little better. And plus-size tuxedo rentals would go up.
This year if you see someone in front of the school with a cardboard sign reading “I need tickets” they may not be scalping … they may be serious.
-Josh Peterson is a Tennessee Press Association award-winning writer and photographer and is the editor of the Manchester Times. He can be reached by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29.