Illinois High School Assigns Prom Dates

Prom is a big deal in a high-schooler’s life. Students get all dolled up in their pretty dresses and dashing tuxedoes, parents take roughly 8 million pictures and memories are made. But at one Illinois high school, there’s no guesswork as to who will ask whom—because the school picks for you.

For students at the Catholic Aquin High School in Freeport, Illinois, prom dates are chosen by a “prom draw.” This tradition has been a part of Aquin’s prom season since 1926, allegedly as a way to make sure children at the orphanage across the street from the school would have a chance to attend prom as well.

And because there are only 111 people in the entire high school (that figures out to just about 28-29 people per class!), there are no secrets or surprises.

prom photo
Getty Images | Bethany Clarke

“It doesn’t matter who draws which name,” Aquin Junior Maggie Bald, a third-generation participant in the prom draw, told TODAY. “We get along with everyone. Since 90 percent of us have been going to school together since kindergarten, we are very close.”

So how does it work? The senior boys go into the library and draw their dates at random. The girls wait in the gym and then watch a skit performed by the boys before learning who their dates will be.

Because the school is so small, some of the students are entered into the draw before their senior year to make sure there will be enough couples. If there still aren’t enough evenly matched couples, sometimes a student might get two dates, as happened to Bald’s grandfather in the 1940s.

But what if you’ve got a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Apparently these students still participate, and prom becomes more of a giant group night out as opposed to a romantic evening.

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