Bingo for Prom Dates

High school students pick prom dates randomly with bingo dispenser

By Suzanne Richter and Phil Rogers
|  Sunday, Jul 12, 2009  |  Updated 11:06 AM CDT
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Choosing who to go to the prom with can be a big hassle. One northern Illinois school takes the stress out of it for all their students.

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Luck of Prom Draw

Don't stress over who to take to prom, kids. Let a bingo dispenser do the choosing for you, like Aquin Central Catholic does.
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Think your prom was stressful?   Will I be asked?  Will they say yes?

Well, for 83 years, students at Aquin Central Catholic High School in northern Illinois have been drawing names for prom dates. There's no stress of worrying who to ask or if they'll say yes -- it all comes down to the random spin of a bingo dispenser.

Aquin said it's the only school in the country to handle prom this way.

“I think everyone thinks you are telling them a joke," said Bill Pospischil, Aquin teacher and athletic director.

It is no joke. The boys are given random numbers and gather in the library for the big drawing.

A teacher calls out, “No. 10, Mister Arthur Schmidt?”

Arthur walks up to a spinning bingo dispenser.

“You ready?” Mr. Pospischil asks.

“Yep.”

The spinning stops, and Arthur chooses an envelope containing the name of his prom date.

“You will be going to prom with Miss Emily Chappell,” Pospischil announces as applause erupts.  With his date's name in hand, Arthur waits for the fate of his three friends before heading off to the cafeteria to perform for the girls.

After 80 years, the Prom Draw has evolved to include skits the boys put together.

To add to the suspense (and comedy), the girls wear personally designed paper bags over their heads.

Then it's down on one knee for the big moment -- to actually ask the girl if she'll go.  But the answer is always yes, as everyone agrees in advance to go with whomever the bingo dispenser picks.

“It takes the pressure off the guy. Then he doesn't have to ask, he just has to draw," said student Jordan Pontius, who's going to prom for the first time.

The nuns at Aquin started the tradition in the late 1920s to help the students socialize through dance.

"I wasn't Fred Astaire, I'll tell you that," said 90-year-old Tony Barcellona, who remembers his Aquin prom like it was yesterday. Tony’s class had 20 girls and 10 boys, so Tony took two girls to prom.

“It's not too often that I've asked two girls to go on dance date with me all at once," he said.

Every year, the students vote to keep the tradition going, and over the years, it has guaranteed one unforeseen benefit, according to Pospischil.

“We all know -- at least in our high school career -- we're going to have an opportunity to have at least two dates before we graduate,” he said.

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