High school prom event theme causes backlash among Virginia parents: ‘totally unacceptable’

Around the South

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Some Chesterfield County Public Schools parents are raising concerns over a prom-like event planned at Midlothian High School.

Some parents told WRIC that the ‘promenade’ walk-through planned for Saturday evening, is ‘culturally insensitive.’

According to an online sign-up sheet for the ‘Around the World’ theme, the high school’s parent, teacher and student organization asked for several decorations. Among them are items like animal masks, baskets, rain sticks and drums. The items are intended to represent Kenya.

For Hawaii, Midlothian High School PTSO members asked for tiki torches. For Mexico, members asked for maracas.

The items are causing alarm for some CCPS parents. Tavorise Marks has a student that attends a school within the district and was shocked to hear about the theme. He has also served on the Chesterfield County NAACP chapter for five years from 2015-2020.

Marks told WRIC he received several phone calls from disturbed parents.

“Some were disgusted. Some were very concerned, and some wanted to seek some type of assistance in helping the school as well as the county guide and navigate these waters that we always seem to find ourselves back into,” said Marks.

According to the Midlothian High School PTSO’s Facebook page, students were asked to sign up for a time slot in order to walk across a ‘blue carpet.’

“There are NO pandemic travel restrictions at the PROMenade! Visit Hollywood, Mexico, Kenya, Italy and Paris for delicious themed treats, gift cards, and giveaways (not to mention more great photo ops!)”

Midlothian High School Parent Teacher and Student Organization

Marks believes there needs to be more diversity and inclusion training within Chesterfield County Public Schools and that there should be people of color also involved in these types of decisions.

“To ensure that every culture here in the county is appropriately celebrated and appreciated and not appropriated and disrespected,” said Marks.

WRIC has reached out to Chesterfield County Public Schools for a comment.

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