High-school prom-posals are the latest trend

Posted: April 25, 2013

WHEN CENTRAL HIGH School student Walid Abduldaki asked a girl to the senior prom, he didn't stop her in the hallway to pop the question. He didn't call. Or email. He sure didn't text.

Instead, the 17-year-old sent prospective date Ana Koerner on a scavenger hunt, a daylong quest that led from her school locker to an office and classroom, and friend to friend, until she wound up, said Abduldaki, "on the blacktop by her car, where I was waiting with a bouquet of flowers."

If such a shenanigan sounds like a romantic scene from "The Bachelor," consider this: Abduldaki and Koerner aren't dating. They're just friends.

And, they're just participating in the very-trending ritual of "prom-posals."

At Harriton High School, "the kids call it the 'prom ask,' " said assistant principal Lauren Marcuson. She likened such pre-prom miniproductions to over-the-top engagements. "You would think that they are being asked to be married," she said.

You would have thought something, at least, last year, when Brady McHale, then a senior at Lower Merion, mounted a 100-foot firetruck ladder while holding a neon-pink sign. He climbed to the high school's library window, behind which sat gal pal Franny deNuzio. The sign said, "FRANNY PROM?"

The over-the-top proposition earned McHale, a volunteer at the Gladwyne Fire Company (whose truck he borrowed) and now a freshman at La Salle University, a spot in the Main Line spotlight - and on the Huffington Post. Some online commenters didn't approve of McHale's use of an emergency vehicle. But a year on, he didn't express a single regret.

"Prom is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. . . . I'm very community-minded, and showcasing the fire company in that measure was a great opportunity," he said. "When you think of your four years in high school, the prom is the cherry on top, the final hurrah. . . . I wanted to do something that certainly would be remembered."

These days, memories, apparently, are made of these. And then some.

'Stars of their own show'

Scott Layer, Cheltenham High School's director of athletics and activities, said the prom ask is "popping up crazily here" this year.

In the past few months, one Cheltenham student solicited a prom date on the school's red marquee. Another used the cafeteria's sound system to blare Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True." Another prom-posed during "Mr. Cheltenham" night at the school's spring fling. Still another got volleyball teammates to lie down on the floor to spell out "PROM" with their bodies.

One enlisted Cheltenham's principal in a fake locker search. Another student rode in the back of his mom's open convertible while shouting to his would-be prom date through a megaphone during a schoolwide fire drill.

Philly and Philly-area students told tales of prom asks via poem and pep rally, at track practice and talent shows, via karaoke, a cappella performances, dancing flash mobs, a James Bond-style car chase, homemade signs, store-bought doughnuts, and trips to the school disciplinarian.

Where do these daters come up with these ideas? Doug Young, spokesman at Lower Merion School District, said, "There are a lot of examples out there on TV and YouTube, things that kids are reading about and seeing, and there are resources available to do something creative."

But what inspires them to be so . . . public?

"A lot of the kids like being the stars of their own show," said Young.

Beyond that, to many date planners, it's vital to publicize - and to document - the ask.

"At Masterman, you try to get as many people to see it as possible. And on Facebook, you want to get as many likes as possible," explained Addie Weyrich, a junior (and the daughter of People Paper columnist Ronnie Polaneczky).

Still, not everyone goes for a mass response. Abduldaki said he's "not really big on the social-media thing." But he did appreciate his pals' reactions.

"My friends thought it was really cute. Everybody kind of 'Aww-ed'" he said.

Central classmate Jimmy Cao, who prom-posed to girlfriend Lyric Hamilton on the school's International Day by dancing bachata, then playing Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" in the auditorium, agreed. "It was really 'cute,' as every person who saw it said," he recalled.

Cute is good. But getting a "yes" is even better.

Bobby Hyland, Weyrich's date to St. Joe Prep's junior prom, sent her on a cycling scavenger hunt around Center City that started at school and ended at Lombard Swim Club, where the pair worked as lifeguards.

At that last stop, Hyland appeared in a suit, clutching roses, red and gold balloons and more balloons that spelled out "PROM." Recalled the young suitor, "When she got there, I said, 'Addie Weyrich, will you go to prom with me?' "

Said Hyland, "I figured why not go big?"


For a look at the five most-viewed "Promposal" videos on YouTube, check out The Conversation blog on PhillyDailyNews.com. Use promo code H66A.


On Twitter: @LaMcCutch

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