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Lakeside High turns school over to MTV reality show on promposals. Why did it say yes to the mess?


Lakeside High School in DeKalb allowed an MTV reality show to film an elaborate prom invite -- known as a promposal --  that involved using school time to gather the 400-member junior class, dance team, cheerleaders, drumline and basketball team in the gym so one effervescent junior could ask her longtime beau to the prom.

The Lakeside High episode that aired Sunday marked the premiere of the MTV  series “Promposal." The 30-minute reality show traces ambitious Destini's efforts to win approval of her elaborate promposal from Lakeside High School officials. It turns out to be remarkably easy, which is surprising given that Destini herself says the promposal will be "a huge deal...people are going to have to be out of class. There's going to be a big commotion."

The question: Why did Lakeside High say yes to the mess?

Oddly, the assistant principal's greatest fear -- at least as presented in the edited segment  -- was whether Destini's boyfriend Damon would accept the promposal, not whether parents would wonder about using this much time and energy for one kid to ask another to prom.

I don't think some Lakeside High parents will appreciate the moment when a student asks, "How do you spell prom?" Keep in mind reality TV producers mine such moments and often script them. This is a staged reality show with almost no authentic dialogue, but the two kids are cute and photogenic. Destini describes herself and her date as the Beyonce and Jay Z of Lakeside.

Many school districts would have turned this program down simply on the issue of return. In general, reality TV and schools just don't seem a good mix. There's not a single moment in the episode that references Lakeside's academic achievements, which are notable. I have asked DeKalb Schools for a comment about why it agreed and will share when I get it.

Here is the MTV promo for the Lakeside episode.


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Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.