Traditions are a significant foundation to the Mercy High School experience. They extend from kicking off the school year with Greenies and Welcome Week, to the touching yet sad ending of Farewell Day. These traditions help us explore the past and shape the future of our school. Our numerous traditions tie to the community of students, staff, and alums that we build through Mercy, and the way that we celebrate forever anchors the spirit of Mercy within the girls.
Among the various traditions that are comoderated at Mercy, the most lionized, especially by the juniors and seniors, is prom announcement. Juniors heedlessly prepare for one unknown day of the school year to put on a performance revealing information about prom for the seniors. Discretion, cooperation, and entertainment are the strategies and goals used by the juniors to keep the theme and date of prom announcement a secret full of fun for the rest of the school. The prom announcement tradition can bring such excitement and thrill which can result in the neglegance of learning more about it. Taking that idea into account, let’s learn more about PA!
The year when PA first infused with the many traditions at Mercy, dates as early as the 1970’s, but the exact date is unknown. Prom announcements are often the top most memorable experiences according to Mercy alums. Nobody quite knows how PA became such a substantial backbone structure of junior and senior year. What we do know is that PA has always been some sort of compelling “on-stage” performance that reveals the details of prom to the seniors. Secrecy, excitement, and theatrical aspects all play a crucial role in the production.
Despite not knowing exactly when or what started this unique tradition, prom announcement is something specifically distinctive to Mercy High School in Omaha. To our knowledge, no other school in town puts on a stage production to release information about prom. Mercy’s athletics and extracurriculars were not even nearly as advanced as they are today. The ample opportunities in the arts department allowed Mercy’s stage activities to be largely progressive. This could be why PA is primarily an “on-stage” performance.
This year’s PA, “Twilight”, was put on by the class of 2024. One of the two directors, Malanna Muse, filled me in on the work it took to make the senior’s prom announcement an overall success. The juniors all got together and brainstormed many ideas before finally voting on “Twilight”. Casting required a night of auditions for everyone who wanted to be involved, at which everyone was asked what size of role they wanted and then auditioned. The girls worked from the beginning of November to late January, with writing meetings and rehearsals throughout that time. Even though many girls found it challenging to try to balance rehearsals with sports, activities, and individual schedules, everyone was able to maintain a fun, positive atmosphere. Practices were scheduled once every week or two, either on Wednesday nights or Sunday afternoons. “We really wanted people to stay focused and commit to the responsibilities associated with PA. It was a lot of work, but we wanted everyone to be able to have fun!” said Malanna. Despite most inspiration coming from the “Twilight” movies, the cast had a lot of good ideas that were included throughout the performance. As always, the junior sponsors and other staff members heavily contributed to PA. “Mrs. Mergens and Ms. Dongili were especially helpful in guiding us with planning and organization, and Mr. Von Kampen’s help with tech was also greatly appreciated!” Malanna expressed, “And with regards to the seniors, they knew that we were working on PA, but they didn’t know when it was. I think we confused them enough to keep it a secret, but it wasn’t easy!”
The secretive facet of PA adds a fun manner unlike other traditions at Mercy. Especially when the second semester approaches, the seniors become tremendously eager for prom announcements. Healthy competitiveness often arises between the junior and senior class in an intense cat and mouse game. The juniors (aka the mice) have important information that the seniors (aka the cats) are hungry for. Research indicates that there is no real reason as to why prom announcements should be a secret; it has just become a sort of norm. Although PA causes a bit of tension between the two classes in the end, it’s all just fun and games!