Love Looks Like A Poster Board

Parker Recounts The Overlap Between Dating And Prom


What does love look like? Well, for many students at Parker, love presents itself in a 22 by 28 inch poster board adorned with a clever pun which ends in “Prom?” It’s sometimes embellished with neon markers and photos, most likely in a precisely thought out hallway or room within the school, and always well photographed, group-chatted about, and eagerly anticipated. With sparse “normal” high school traditions, Prom at Parker opens the door for an uptick in conversation about dating, love, and how students express it outside of Parker’s campus.

“Sad,” junior Kiran Mathew said when asked to describe the dating scene at Parker. Mathew did not provide any further explanation. On the contrary, junior Evan Sato described dating culture to be “really good” and explained that he was excited to go to prom with his girlfriend of nearly 18 months. 

Prom is one of two Parker-sanctioned dances held during the school year. Differentiating itself from its counterpart, homecoming, Prom is the only dance with dates and does not have a theme. This year, Prom will be held June 8 at The Penthouse Hyde Park. Students will be provided with trolley transportation to the venue. As the school year concludes, the buzz around Prom picks up. During the month of May it is common to observe Prom proposals, or “Promposals” in the hallway, plan out your required “formal attire,” and stop in Upper School Coordinator Rolanda Shepard’s office for tickets—each ticket costs $85 and must be purchased in cash.  

This ticket is pricey in comparison to any other student events held at Parker and creates debate amongst students on who should be paying. “I have developed a feminist complex,” junior Anya Landolt said. “For me, it makes me feel liberated to buy my own prom ticket and not have my date buy it for me. It just makes me feel good.”

Junior Annabelle Garelick takes an opposing side. “Despite barely even liking me and refusing to do a prom ask, [my date] still managed to buy a ticket for me. I was completely shocked.”

On Thursday, May 26 alone there were six recorded “Promposals” that occurred between the hours of 8am and 3pm. One took place in the library and involved the announcement system, a handful happened in classrooms and hallways, and one was witnessed by everyone in the cafeteria and those who followed five shirtless junior boys whose stomachs spelled out “P R O M ?” to the courtyard. 

When it comes to Prom, many Parker students see little connection to Parker relationships. “I think people mostly go with friends,” senior Ava Roseberg said, “or with people they want to hangout with at Prom.” When referencing dating alone, “It’s dramatic,” was Rosenberg’s only statement. 

A portion of upperclassmen decide to take underclassmen as their dates to prom. While you can’t go alone as an underclassman, if you are somebody’s date you are allowed to attend. “I think a lot of my friends are taking sophomore girls as dates because they don’t have an obvious connection with someone in their own grade,” anonymous junior boy #1 said. “It just sometimes works out that way. It’s not that deep.” 

On the Francis W. Parker school website under “History,” an italicized quote in the color royal blue tops the page: “A school should be a model home, a complete community, an embryonic democracy – Colonel Francis Wayland Parker.” In response to why many students don’t date at Parker, this sentiment of being a model home is reflected—maybe by accident but true nonetheless. “As a lifer at Parker,” Landolt said, “I don’t think a lot of people date because it’s kind of weird that we all grew up together.” 

Reflecting this same idea was senior Ivy Jacobs. “You either have to be okay with dating someone you’ve known since you were four or find somebody else, I guess,” Jacobs said. “Most people here are like your siblings.”

Upper School English teacher Mike Mahany has been around to witness more than a few Parker prom seasons. “I feel that love is in the air in the spring,” Mahany said. “I just wish that girls would not bail out boys. I wish that boys would do their own prom asking, their own design of posters, and come up with their own ideas.”