The fact that high school seniors feel compelled to spend ridiculous sums of money for their proms is a serious indictment of both the materialistic values of our society and the public educational system which, if not directly fostering these values, has not apparently done much to effectively challenge them.
These young people are no doubt looking for a sense of significance which, sadly, they have come to believe is to be known through what they have and how they look rather than who they are and what they do.
It would appear that our educational system needs to provide greater opportunities for the creative self expression of our young people. Otherwise they will almost certainly embrace the ever-present consumerist message that what is really important comes from the outside and can be purchased for a price. I hope that at least some of the prom-goers found the whole thing to be a big let-down and began to see that fulfillment doesn't lie in that direction.
I also hope there are some people who can represent an alternative direction. This is perhaps the primary responsibility of parents and teachers, but each of us has some role to play in this.
GARY L. BARAN