When your children get older they may get the royal ambitions. Homecoming Queen (or King) has a long tradition and is a big deal for some. Mostly because this is a big coming of age achievement if they are selected. It is also a chance to get dressed up.
But what is it really? What does it mean to them? And is their an alternative if they aren’t selected?
Both of these are big social events in a high school population that include/are centered on a big dance. Many schools have one or two other dances over the course of the year (more in more religious areas, where social activity is regulated by grown-ups).
Homecoming is in the autumn, maybe a month or two after school starts (which is typically around the beginning of September).
In college, its a time for recent graduates to come back and visit, and it has some of that flavor in high school as well. There’s usually an official football game which is the homecoming game, where the King and Queen are crowned.
Prom is a few weeks or a month before graduation. During prom season which runs from April to the end of May; teenage girls go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a dress they will wear once, and most guys go out and rent a tuxedo or possibly a limo. They then take their date out to a fancy dinner.
Grades 11 and 12 (juniors and seniors)are allowed to participate. Grade 9 or 10 students (freshmen and sophomore) must be asked by an upperclassmen.
It’s meant to be the social climax of the high school experience.
In both cases most schools have Kings and Queens and courts, which are essentially rewards for being popular. A school sets its own policies, although for prom at my school only seniors were eligible and only seniors voted, while at homecoming I think others were allowed to vote.
Homecoming is usually open to anyone in the school. Prom is typically only for seniors (those about to graduate, typically 17-18 year olds), or maybe juniors as well (the year behind senior), although they can bring an underclassman as a date. But as I say, any given school might have its own rules of traditions that are different than the norm.
For young Latinas the desire to have their own coming of age is much different and it means that she will be the center of attention, a little princess with her own court. Surveys have shown that girls that celebrate a quinceañera are less likely to be drawn into the undesirable activities that often go along with high school dances.
The reason is because they have already had something much more meaningful, confirming their beliefs and faith.
High school dances in general are sort of weirdly formal and weirdly trashy, because high school kids are often sexually active but still learning how to behave. There’s also a culture of going to prom and then when it’s over going out and getting drunk, and there is a lot of anxiety over kids getting in car accidents. In part because of this, and in part because it seems cool, lots of kids take limos on prom night, and to a lesser extent to other dances.
In the movies it’s a cliché that people lose their virginity on prom night. With more teens choosing to remain celibate today that ever before.