Who says home schooling is antisocial Meet the children who skip high school but still get to go to prom
19:46 GMT, 27 April 2012
Home schooling is a parenting choice often hotly debated by adults, but when it comes to asking the children themselves what they think, whether they'll miss prom is likely to be high on the list of concerns.
The home-schooled students of Northern Texas, however, need have no fear of missing out on this essential rite of passage.
Every year,1,000 boys and girls aged between 16 and 18 who spend their semesters at home rather than in school, flock to their 'home-school prom' dressed in their best dresses and newly purchased tuxedos.
Raring to go! Teenagers tutored at home in Northern Texas congregate at the end of their academic career for their very own dance thanks to the parents who organise the 'home-school prom'
This year saw the eager revellers celebrating at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Dallas where the ballroom had been decorated in the style of a medieval castle to match the olde English invitation.
And though almost nothing about these events distinguishes them from any other high school prom, according to the Star Telegram, to the trained eye a few details stand out as different.
Biblical: Though many proms across the country are themed, what sets the Northern Texas home-school prom apart from the rest is the sprinkling of Christian references seen here on the original invitation
Scary! The children revel in the chance to enjoy an event that all other high school students experience for the last two years of school and see it as a way to prove they are no different
Belles of the ball: The Texan prom rules are stricter than the average high school dance and girls are encouraged to wear long gowns with nothing too revealing
While there are 300,000 home-schooled children in Texas alone and home-school proms are being held increasingly across the country, at the Dallas prom at least, Christian values and dogma pervaded the venue space.
Since many of the parents who choose to mentor their children at home do so with religious motive, quotes from the Scriptures adorn the walls and a prayer is called before dinner.
In Dallas there is also no prom king and queen and in place of the predictable provocative, tight-fitting clothing favoured by boy-crazy teens, girls are encouraged to wear long dresses that cover any indecently exposed flesh and boys forbidden to wear anything that could be mistaken for casual.
But a touch of modesty and a few Biblical banners do not a boring evening make.
Cleavage and cages! The Dallas prom may be run more conservatively by the parents, but according to one teen, they party just like other kids their age and were expecting to be out until five or six in the morning
Stage set: A mother of nine who helps organise the prom says the parents like to give their children the chance to be like other teens while simultaneously teaching them about history and tradition at the same time
According to one 17-year-old from Arlington, Michelle Zeledon, the night is just as exciting as any other high school prom.
'We'll probably be up until five or six in the morning,' she told the Star Telegram. 'We'll just see what happens. Who knows'
The North Texas prom began 13 years ago when parents who tutored their own children decided their children deserved to enjoy a tradition that is such an important part of a teenager's life.
Paul Hastings, an organiser of the Lubbock-based Texas Home School Coalition explained: 'Home-schooled kids want prom for the same reasons that high school kids want one. It's fun. They want to be with their friends. They want a night to remember.'
Medieval neon Reflecting the fact that most home-schooled Texan children's parents observe the Christian faith, prom-goers are called to make a prayer before dinner
Show off Despite this maverick's cool moves, when it comes to the dancing the students are more than prepared having taken waltz and swing classes beforehand
For the children, celebrating the end of their high school careers this way is the perfect way to prove that despite their unorthodox education, they are no different from other kids their age.
As Meredith Stowe from Bedford said: 'There's a definite stereotype that we school at home in our pajamas. That could not be further from the truth.'
But one home schooling mother of nine believes it should be more than just a party.
'We want prom to be a fun, memorable night, but we also want our children to learn about dance and tradition and history,' Bliss Herron explained. 'We are always looking for ways to teach them.'
Lucky dragon: The fantastical beast seems to provide a great photo-opportunity and a chance for some getting-to-know-each-other-time