Elaborate Promposals Fill Third Quarter

Senior Evan Sakaguchi asks his classmate Amelia McKenzie to the Junior-Senior banquet after performing a dance.

If you happen to hear cheering in the month of February, it’s probably because someone has just been asked to the Junior-Senior banquet.

These “asks”, commonly dubbed “promposals,” have become very popular not only at HBA, but across schools around the country. Getting flowers now seems to be the bare minimum as boys go out of their way to make their promposals elaborate and unique. From pizza to posters to songs, many guys at HBA have creatively crafted their promposals in hopes of their dates saying yes. Although many recipients enjoy the public promposals, some students and teachers have mixed feelings towards these extravagant displays.

This year, 15 sophomores have been invited to the Junior-Senior banquet by upperclassmen dates. Senior Darren Nirei asked his girlfriend, sophomore Alexa Yoo, though an Eagle Eye morning announcements video. In a version specially edited for Yoo’s homeroom, Nirei appeared on screen and said, “Speaking of prom…” and asked Yoo to go outside of the classroom. When she walked out, he dropped a balloon and stuffed animal from the upper floor D building and ran down with flowers to greet her.

Senior Candace Minami asked her boyfriend, sophomore Joshua Joo, on his birthday. Minami hosted a birthday party for him complete with a pie, balloons, a birthday banner, candles, and gifted him with a photo collage. After his friends put on a skit based on the fairy tale of The Three Pigs (Joo played the part of a pig in his grade’s Spirit Week Pepper Squad), Minami popped out of a present and asked him. Minami said, “I remembered their Pepper Squad skit of the Three Little Pigs and meshed it into my promposal.”  Although Joo knew that Minami was going to ask him, he said, “I was very surprised that it happened on my birthday. I honestly didn’t know when it was gonna happen, and so when I walked into the cafeteria, I was wondering what was going on with so many people there.”

Senior Randi Nishida asked her bowling teammate, sophomore Jarred Hee, by throwing him a football with “Hey you’re a gr8 catch. Want to tackle prom together? Don’t pass up the offer!” written on it. Like Joo and Yoo, Hee knew he was going to be asked but wasn’t sure when it would happen.

Some students are attending the banquet with familiar dates. Seniors Anne Shiraishi and Nick Siu-Li are going to their second banquet together. She said she was “happy to go with him again to [another] dance.”

Although this is his third time going with her, senior Chris Caballes still managed to think of another creative way to ask his girlfriend, junior Kainani Gruspe, to the Junior-Senior banquet. He bought a large pepperoni pizza from Papa John‘s and wrote, “You have a pizza my heart, will you go to prom with me?” Caballes said he thought of his idea after scrolling through Instagram. Since it was National Pizza Day and Gruspe loves pizza, he decided to use a pizza to covey his message.

Junior Haley Pilien planned a scavenger hunt to ask her church friend Jaeu to the Junior-Senior banquet. Because he played guitar, she personalized her ask by using guitar picks on her sign. Senior Dominique Hart asked her boyfriend Cody by buying him dinner, balloons, and writing him a poem. Although she initially had an elaborate promposal planned, she ended up making her ask a simple one. “It took me about a week and a half to actually think of something grand because it is my last prom [and] I wanted it to be big. But sometimes the smaller things matter the most.”

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The depth of one’s feelings is not necessarily measured in the elaborateness of a public gesture. Often the best catches are humble enough to make their thoughtful gestures behind the scenes.”

English teacher Alexandra Taylor

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According to many teachers at HBA, promposals have gotten bigger and more elaborate over the years. While some teachers enjoy watching students plan and execute their creative ideas, many feel that some have gotten too over the top.

History teacher Katherine Pang said, “It’s ridiculous. My question for the guys is always, what happens when you propose to your fiancée later on? If you go big now, what are you going to do for the real love of your life?”

English teacher Alexandra Taylor said,  “I will say that the trend seems to embody a certain kind of youthful exuberance/immaturity/narcissism. At best, it’s a fun way to do something nice for another person. At worst, ugh, just more social media fodder. And it could lead to unrealistic expectations and unhealthy competition. The depth of one’s feelings is not necessarily measured in the elaborateness of a public gesture. Often the best catches are humble enough to make their thoughtful gestures behind the scenes.”

Junior Tanner Isaacs said that promposals can be great but it “depends on how it’s done.” He added, “If it is asked face to face, that is perfectly fine. All out? No. Going all out is just showboating.”

Senior Charisse Agraan, however, appreciates the imagination behind the promposals she’s seen this year. “I feel that promposals at HBA are usually really creative and memorable, and not just the typical rose-in-hand ‘Will you go to prom with me?’ ask. I know a lot of schools around the island like hearing about our promposals.”

Promposals don’t come cheap. Just buying the a simple bouquet can be expensive—about $30. For Minami’s birthday party-promposal for Joo, she ended up spending $200, way more than she planned. Another downside to public promposals is the possibility for the girl to say no. Taylor said, “I would measure the worthiness of a young man’s proposal based on the strength of his character, not the flashiness of his “promposal”. I also think a young lady ought to go to the prom with anyone who asks her in good faith, whom she believes to be of sound character, even if she doesn’t know him terribly well, and even if she doesn’t have any fluttery feelings for him. It’s the prom, not marriage.”

Students have mixed feelings about elaborate promposals and the possibility of rejections. Senior Mikayla Mau says, “If a girl really doesn’t want to go with a guy who asked her to prom, she should say no right then and there because saying yes at first will bring up the guy’s hopes of going with her and then all of a sudden she rejects him later.  To me that’s really not cool.”

Senior Kaily “Maka” Lum disagrees. “I think a girl should say no later so that the boy who asked won’t be so embarrassed about asking her,” she says. “She should tell him privately with a reasonable answer.” Junior Helen Chen concurs, “If she wants to save the boy from humiliation, she should say no later. However, if she wants to save the boy from disappointment, then she should say no right then and there.”

Senior Jared Chun is choosing to go “stag”—without a date—to the banquet this year and explains his reasoning this way: “When you ask someone after putting so much work into your promposal, only to get someone to [give you a] pity yes is gut wrenching. It’s the worst, going in with intentions to have a good night only to learn that you ruined the other person’s night.  It feels like they’re unappreciative but you also feel bad for doing it to them, and you can’t turn back at that point.”

Junior advisor and head of the banquet committee Keysey Logan points out that promposals should not be the main focus of the Junior-Senior banquet. After all, she says, the purpose of the banquet is “a time to celebrate and have fun.” She sums up the banquet this way: “There’s a lot of purpose also in doing something a little fancier than what we do at school; that’s real life too. It’s a nice way for you to learn those things. Even as part of a school, not in a class, it’s nice to teach everyone how to [act] in a fancier location and do nice things.”

Photographs by Candace Minami (’15) and Darren Nirei (’15).

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