In 1985, my high school principal folded the petition I had painstakingly written on behalf of my class, and tucked it into the inner pocket of his suit coat. “I’m surprised a girl with such a pretty face could write something like this,” he coolly stated. 

Maybe that’s why even though I rarely feel compelled to sign a petition, I do pay special attention to those written by students. 

This past week, I came across a petition regarding a prom dress code that had been instituted by a local high school. Not only did I sign it, I donated to the student’s cause.  

I try to always encourage others to use their voice, whether or not I agree with their opinion. In this case, I fully agreed. In fact, had I written the petition, it would have included much more than the forbidden footwear. Requiring neckties, suits, tuxedos, etc, seems a bit over the top, not to mention an expense many cannot afford. 

But then, I have lots of opinions about proms. As a former homeschool parent, I often had to answer the question, “How could you let your kids miss prom?!”

My regular, and somewhat snarky, response was, “If prom still stands out as one of the most significant events of your life, you need a better life.”

I can say that because I didn’t actually attend prom. I kind of wanted to, but the guy I was dating was too old. The dude who agreed to go with me in lieu of my boyfriend, asked if we could cut out early and attend the nearby truck and tractor pull. 

We hung around the school long enough to have our picture taken for my mom, and then, in full prom garb, we trekked to the tractor pull. As luck would have it, we got in free because my date drove a one-ton, flat-bed truck, and they assumed he was part of a crew. One of the many joys of living in small town Tennessee. 

Anyhow, I eventually enrolled my kids in public high school (one of the best parenting decisions I ever made, FYI), and then forced my oldest daughter to attend prom. She had no interest. Just wasn’t her thing. I bribed her with a limousine and a cute homeschool boy who agreed to be her date (one of the worst parenting decisions I ever made, FYI).  

So, yeah, I’m all over the place on the prom issue. 

I don’t know if it was due to the young woman’s petition, but the school retracted the “no tennis shoe” rule. I was glad to hear it as a few years ago, my second daughter wore Converse tennis shoes not only to school dances, but also in a wedding. She looked adorable, and her bad knees, which eventually required surgery, did not cause pain during any of the events. She was also prom queen, so clearly footwear is not an arguable issue.  

The school is to be commended for agreeing to the change, although I’m still not convinced boys should be required to wear suits and neckties. In my opinion, prom is for the students, and if they feel comfortable, accepted, and happy, that is all that matters. But not everyone is ready for the trend toward a casually-dressed society, or a world where prom is just a party instead of a nearly sacred, coming-of-age event. I accept that. At least they are listening, and thoughtfully reconsidering.

I’m just grateful to see a day when a pretty face with a strong opinion is no longer a surprise.

-Syndicated columnist Ginger Claremohr is an author, motivational speaker, and mother of five. Follow her on Facebook, find her on the web: www.claremohr.com, or contact ginger@claremohr.com.