Divine Child High School in Dearborn unveils 'modesty poncho' for inappropriate prom dresses

High schools throughout Metro Detroit struggle with prom attire rules

DEARBORN, Mich. – With prom season in full force, schools throughout Metro Detroit are dealing with some questionable fashion choices.

School officials are trying to determine which prom dresses are too risque and which ones are acceptable.

Divine Child High School in Dearborn is getting attention for its handling of prom dresses, unveiling what's been dubbed the "modesty poncho."

While there was a poncho at the school, officials said they will not be handing ponchos out at the dance. They said the modesty poncho represents a concept of appropriateness.

Divine Child is a school that values uniformity, and when it comes to prom, the message sent to parents was that students need to meet certain dress requirements.

"We encourage our students to tailor their outfits or provide their own wraps or shawls that would meet our requirements," the letter to parents said. "If necessary, we may also provide wraps and shawls, as we have done at school functions for many years."

"Especially if you bring a girl from another school, and you take them to prom and they come in and have to put that on, imagine how embarrassed they would feel," said John, a 17-year-old student at Divine Child High. 

The parochial school, which has a strict dress code and requires students to wear uniforms, is demanding modesty at the dance, and while the modesty poncho has gone viral nationally, prom attire is a huge problem for schools throughout Metro Detroit.

"I've seen everything from the entire side of a dress cut out, so that there's only one lace here and one lace here, and no underwear," said Derrick Lopez, the interim superintendent for the Southfield School District. "I've seen young men who actually have their pants sagging around the bottom of their behind."

Lopez is deeply concerned about current prom attire for both male and female students.

But students have their own opinions.

"It's your body, it's your business," valedictorian Shannon said. "I mean, especially for prom, because most people there are 18 or 19."

"No, you should not be able to wear anything you want to prom because it's still a school event," Jacell, a 17-year-old student, said.

Both Southfield high schools hold their proms during the last week of May, and Lopez wants to make it clear that students wearing inappropriate clothing will be sent home.

"Minimize the B's," Lopez said. "Minimize your breasts. Minimize your buns. But, really, make it timeless and classy."

Lopez has asked students to be proactive in their choices. When in doubt, he said, students can bring outfits or pictures to a school staff member for approval.

"Parents often want to indulge their children," Lopez said.

Several students said they appreciated going over their dress choices with a school staff member.

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