IT HAS long been a rite of passage for American teenagers – with a plethora of rigid traditions and rituals attached.
But now the US high school prom has been given a Scottish flavour by students on this side of the Atlantic who want to make the event their own.
In an academic study of the growing trend for graduation proms in Scottish schools, researchers have found national Scottish characteristics and traditions are making events held here notably different to those in the US.
A study by Julie Tinson of the University of Stirling found that Scottish youngsters were adamant they wanted their version of the school prom to include traditional activities such as ceilidh dancing and is more likely to be a formal dinner dance than the glitzy prom parties seen on films such as High School Musical and American Pie.
She also found national characteristics such as frugality and prudence differentiated proms on this side of the Atlantic.
The American tradition of the high school prom has grown in popularity in Scotland over the past decade, with some primary schools and even nurseries holding their own versions.
Previously, UK school students have marked the end of their school careers with a low-key disco in the school hall.
“Values promoted in a more austere culture do not necessarily coincide with the perceived excess of the high school prom,” said the report. “Scottish pupils consider it more important to adapt the event itself to emulate their own cultural practices.”
A survey of students at all 375 high schools in Scotland found 28 per cent of respondents wanted a Scottish prom – and although more than a quarter said their event had elements of a US-style prom, the general consensus was that Scottish heritage ought to be part of the occasion. Around 88 per cent of Scots schools called their event a “prom”, while 11 per cent call it a “senior dance” and 1 per cent a variety of other names.
A third described the typical US prom as “over the top”, “cheesy” or “expensive”. Eight out of ten schools had no prom king or queen and even fewer had corsages, although 83 per cent admitted students hired limos to travel there.
The report also revealed students in Scotland are more likely to organise their own prom than their US counterparts – giving rise to a more personalised event. More than 90 per cent of Scottish events are at an outside venue, such as a hotel.
Alan McKenzie, acting general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association said: “It is reassuring that in Scotland we have to the ability to see what in our own culture is important and celebrate that.”