HOCO proposals: A high risk yet high reward situation
The art of executing a dance proposal is something that has become integral to the traditional high school experience. A large proposal, which might include making a sign or asking someone to a dance in front of a crowd, is very different from simply asking over text. Many students believe organizing a slightly more extravagant proposal shows more effort and thoughtfulness. A homecoming proposal can be used as a way to excite an event with a friend, or to show dedication to a significant other.
But it can also be used to make the first move with a certain someone that you have been talking to; Scarlett Ingram shares, “That’s bold, and that's a high risk high reward situation.” In any situation, many students agree that making a poster requires more effort and does a better job at showing that you really care.
With the addition of the Stevenson dance committee’s competition this yea, which offers a prize to the most extravagant homecoming proposal, there were definitely a larger number of proposals this year than past years. Junior Emma Sondergaard explains, “Because of the prize that they put into it, its giving people more of a reason [to ask someone], like ‘oh maybe I'll have the guts to actually ask someone this year.’”
Furthermore, the idea of the prize looming overhead might encourage other friendly pairs to create elaborate proposals to secure the reward. Fellow junior Andrew Airada says, “I could see two friends just being like ‘lets make a really cool one, get the prize, just have some fun with it’ or it could bring more of a ‘lets win this competition’ type of thing.” Meanwhile other students see the competition in a slightly different light. Senior Melody Cai shares her wisdom, “Before you could just casually ask someone in person or over text, and just ask them not in a really big way and it would be better because a lot of people aren’t really comfortable with the whole public display of affection thing. So I think now because of [the contest], some people are seeing it like it's an obligation. Like if you want to ask someone you have to make a sign, or you have to go up at assembly.”
Although it might eliminate the element of surprise, many students emphasize the importance of guaranteeing a yes or no answer before making a public proposal. Securing an answer before asking in public can totally eliminate the factor of doubt and uncertainty between both parties.
Junior Scarlett Ingram shares, “I probably wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have confirmation that they’d probably say yes.” Furthermore, doing an even more extravagant and public proposal, like at an assembly or large event can invoke stress that might persuade the person being asked to say yes. Which Cai believes walks the line of valid consent, since outside factors might be pressuring the asked person to say yes. She explains, “[They might say] yes just because it was in public, and all their friends were there, and a lot of effort was put into it, you can’t really say no to that.” Airada concurs, “In front of a crowd, I wouldn’t say you don’t have a choice, [because] there definitely is a lot of pressure [to say yes].”
Sondergaard even admits that if she were asked in front of a large crowd she would “say yes and then talk to them after;” because she explains, “I would not want to deny someone on stage…And the embarrassment if I would say no, that would be so awkward not only for me but for them too.” Though the situation varies from case to case. Henry relates, “If you know the person's vibe, and you guys have been flirting back and forth then I feel like going public isn’t like the worst move. But if it's like you don’t really talk to them and then you just ask them out of the blue, then it's going to be kinda awkward if they don’t want to go with you or want to go with someone else.”
While to some, the practice of the exciting homecoming proposal can seem excessive and unnecessary, it holds values essential to the high school experience. Ingram believes the tradition stems from “The culture of wanting to be wanted, and wanting to be asked out by someone. It’s exciting and we’ve definitely built a culture kind of around that and around high school relationships and ideals about that kind of thing.” While it definitely isn’t a necessity to the entire homecoming or prom experience, it adds some excitement to moments that many people will be able to look back on and reminisce about. Cai encourages, “I feel like in high school you have four years, and if you think the person’s cute and fun and you’re gonna get along then like shoot your shot.”