A group of students at a junior high school in suburban Oslo are outraged after their principal cancelled next year’s annual school ball. It’s traditionally held around the holidays, but school officials are reacting to the pressure and expense it has come to entail.
“This wasn’t an easy decision, but the event has taken on such a character that it puts pressure on the youngsters that the school can’t support,” Ronny Hoset, principal at the Østerås junior high school in Bærum, told state broadcaster NRK. There’s too much pressure, Hoset believes, to have the fanciest gown and for the 10th-grade girls to look their best. Both that and the associated expense, he contends, puts many students and their parents in a difficult position.
His decision to cancel plans for next year’s ball upset some of its soon-to-be 15-year-old partipants so much that they immediately launched a protest via social media and claim they’ll simply organize their own ball. “Ever since I’ve been little I’ve wanted to have just as fine a gown as the one my big sister wore to her ball,” ninth-grader Astrid Jørstad Lillekjendlie told NRK. “It’s a big dream for many girls. We want to be princesses.”
Sara Myklebust Eggen, age 14, accused the principal of punishing her class for things other girls have done in earlier years. She and her friends quickly set up a Facebook page entitled (translated from Norwegian) “WE WANT TO HAVE a Christmas Ball 2016 – Osterås School.” By Wednesday evening it had attracted more than 760 “likes” but not everyone was supportive.
“Great that the school puts its foot down on snobbery in Bærum,” wrote one critic, while another praised the principal for his “clear values” and urged parents to do the same. The principals at a few other schools, though, claimed there were “better alternatives” to canceling the whole party, which is the closest Norway has to an American junior prom. Thomas Fredrik Ruud of Risenga Junior High School in Asker said his school banned the use of limousines several years ago, for example, and also doesn’t allow the girls to change their gowns several times in the course of the evening.