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Illinois high school assigns prom dates so no one is left out

Posted March 22

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— For some teens, asking a date to prom can be an agonizing ordeal. But for the students at Aquin High School in Freeport, Illinois, a long-standing tradition dictates that no one is left out, and no one gets turned down. Prom dates are chosen by luck of the draw.

“I am the third generation of my family to participate in the prom draw,” junior Maggie Bald told NBC's Today Show. “Having a school of less than 100 students, we are more like a family."

"It doesn't matter who draws which name. We get along with everyone. Since 90 percent of us have been going to school together since kindergarten, we are very close.”

It’s a tradition that began at the Catholic school in 1926, reportedly as a way to include children living at an orphanage across the street from the school who wouldn't have had a chance to attend a prom otherwise.

As prom approaches, the boys go to the library and draw the names of their dates at random. The girls, who are waiting in the gym, are then treated to a skit by the boys before their dates are revealed.

Every year, students are asked if they would like to continue the tradition, and every year their response is "yes," Bald said.

If there’s an odd number of students, younger students are pulled up to be included in the draw, as Bald was. Or, a student might attend with two dates, as Bald's grandfather did in the 1940s.

Even students with regular boyfriends or girlfriends participate, and the prom turns into more of a group activity than a romantic date, with friends eating and taking pictures together throughout the night.

“It’s less of a date and more like something fun to do with your classmates,” junior class adviser Michelle Gallagher said.

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