It’s a right of spring at most high schools around the country.
School of the Osage had its formal outing — called Pun-Ga-Har-Jo — Saturday night at the Lodge of Four Seasons. What a perfect evening, and what a perfect venue. Students arrived with the backdrop of the lake, flowering red bud trees and beds of daffodils.
I learned only this week that Pun-Ga-Har-Jo is a page taken from the lake-area’s Native American heritage. It means, loosely translated, Dance of the Rivers.
School of the Osage allows more than just juniors and seniors to attend, and it was easy to spot the younger students — they were chauffeured by their parents. It’s a unique approach to making sure every student has a chance to attend.
I was told over the weekend that some of the larger schools actually use buses to take students to prom. How boring. That’s a far cry from how we country folk handle prom.
I had a high school graduating class of 39. My kids’ classes numbered in the upper 40s and lower 50s. Everybody knew everybody.
Prom in Hamburg and Corning was huge community social event.
In Corning, literally every parent, grandparent and neighbor came to prom to watch the kids arrive. Each student and his or her date was announced by an MC, usually wearing a tuxedo and top hat. The front of the elementary school, where prom was held, was roped off to give the arriving kids ample room to strut their stuff.
There was even a raised stage where the kids would stand, then turn, so everyone could see. And, yes, a set of bleachers was set up for the comfort of the onlookers — if they got there early enough for a seat.
There was always a scramble to borrow friend’s convertible for the official arrival. The more creative students came in classic cars, limos, golf carts, semi-trailers and an occasional tractor. The MC always opened the door for the date, and a father of a high school junior would valet the car to the nearby parking lot.
Prom was something the juniors did for the seniors. For several days before the big event, the juniors (and their parents) spent evenings decorating the elementary school gymnasium to a particular theme. It was closed to the public until the evening of prom.
After-prom activities usually meant a free movie at the one-theater movie house, followed by games back at the school and breakfast at a local church.
There is an old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, and there is much truth to that saying. As parents, we raised our children and gave them the values and tools for survival outside the nest of home. But the community was virtually in step with us as our friends and neighbors shared in those values and supported not only us but also our children.