Last night I had the opportunity to chaperone Mormon Prom, a prom for youth who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and really any other teens wanted to come....If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." --Thirteenth Article of Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
You might ask why we hold a separate prom for the kids in our church? You may also ask what makes a Mormon Prom so different?
Its not that we don't allow our kids to a regular high school prom. (A lot of them still go.)Mormon Prom is about creating a good wholesome atmosphere for these kids to just be teens and to just have fun.
It's about getting away from the low cut, too short, too tight and how-sexy-can-I-be dresses and the-over-the-top limos, expensive dinners, hotel suite with sex, drugs, and alcohol after-parties that often characterize high school proms.
The tickets for Mormon Prom are free, pictures are free. Boutonnieres, corsages, and dinner are all provided.
Anyone can come as long as they agree to adhere to standards of modesty in dress and standards of behavior during the dance. There is no spiked punch, no inappropriate dancing, no couples making out in the middle of the dance floor. No crazy after-parties. (Although we had a big group over at our house after the dance. They had sundaes and watched Napoleon Dynamite.)
But that doesn't mean no fun or even less fun.
If you think it's about adult guarding dark corners, waiting to catch someone breaking the rules, or imposing unrealistic or outdated values on oppressed teens, you are also wrong.
The theme was "Alice in Wonderland" and I have never seen a prom more elaborately decorated. (With the exception of the ones in the movies and really, whose prom was like that?) There were giant flowers and butterflies all around the halls, the entrance to the gym was a key hole, the tables were covered with tea sets and more giant flowers, the picture area had a huge clock, benches and lots and lots of props for taking pictures. There was a "Queen's Room" that was set up with red roses and iron fences, playing card garlands and arches, cupcakes that said "eat me," and little bottles of water that said, "drink me."
Even the girl's bathroom was decorated. The counter by the mirror had flowers, little jars of mints, safety pins, and bobby pins to cover minor emergencies.
Dinner was soup, finger sandwiches, vegetable cups made to look like flower pots, and fruit kabobs. They even made us, the servers, dress like the cards. from "Alice in Wonderland."
The kids danced to Taylor Swift, PSY, Pink, Justin Bieber, and pretty much anything that's popular now. (Although I did hear Vanilla Ice, which was barely cool at my prom.)
The effort that was put into the dance--all done by volunteers and all free to the kids, is a testament to me of how much their leaders love these kids, how far they will go to make things nice for them, and how important they feel it is to provide a beautiful and fun setting for the youth to enjoy themselves in the company of other kids who share their values.
I have never seen more beautiful and modestly dressed girls. I have never seen more respectful and handsome boys. (Yes, my son was among them.) I have never seen kids having so much fun in such a good environment. I was so proud of them.
Whenever I think about last night, my heart is full of gratitude to everyone who helped. It is full of love for these great kids. And it's full of hope for the future.
So why Mormon Prom?
For me Mormon Prom is important because its a celebration of youth, and joy, and friendship, and goodness.
Instead of being about how much money you can spend, what your body looks like, how closely you can imitate the revealing styles of Hollywood, or how far you need to go to have a good time, it's about dancing and talking, being a little crazy, and just being with other kids who share your values and want to have a night to remember instead of a night they wish they could forget.
I'm so grateful to the youth leaders who spent months planning and preparing for last night. I'm so grateful to the kids who were there. Mormon or not, they showed themselves to be virtuous, lovely, of good report,
And most definitely praiseworthy.