James Tate deserves his own prom

EDITORIAL: It’s out of the area, but hearts know no boundaries: A law firm has offered pro bono services to America’s latest hero, a Connecticut senior barred from his prom because he asked a girl to be his date for the big dance by taping the proposal on a wall of the school.

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

James and Sonali

UPDATE: Seems James will be going to his prom, after all ….

“Sonali Rodrigues, will you go to prom with me?” was the message that ignited the spark that lit the dynamite.

Sonali accepted, but the creative proposal drew a stern response from school officials who suspended young Tate, 18, for trespassing, triggering an automatic ban from the prom.

Tate took down the cardboard sign — and took full responsibility. He didn’t whine, moan or complain. His parents should be proud.

Thanks to Facebook, Twitter and other social media, his “cause” grows by the minute. Lawmakers and alumni have come to his defense. People he could never have known are bombarding the Shelton School District with emails.

Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor

He’s been on “The Jimmy Kimmel Show” and “The TODAY Show.”
The “Save Ferris”-styled campaign to support James Tate is viral now — as well it should be. As a wise commentor pointed out: The town of Shelton has roughly 38,101 residents. Yet nearly 180,500 people, as of late Friday afternoon, had signed on for Let James Tate Go to the Prom.

He even has free legal representation, if he wants it.

“Three years ago we had a similar case of a student not allowed to go to [the] prom because of a suspension…,” a representative of the firm wrote. “We filed an injunction (and won btw) and actually had to attend the prom with our client to ensure that she was allowed in.”

I like the alternate prom concept myself.

A Shelton High School alum is organizing “The James Tate Senior Prom 2011,” and already has Pepsi, Red Bull and an area Hyundai dealership lined up as sponsors.

Not only that: Former Sheltonites who’ve gone on to successful careers have hopped aboard, creating a folk song for “The James Tate Senior Prom 2011″ page, widgets for the event’s Facebook fan page — there’s even a merchandising arm, producing t-shirts.

Think about it: The prom is supposed to be a night to remember, yet it’s one of billions of similar events held year after year, even since the lime-green tuxedo was invented. Imagine having your own prom, off campus — with national coverage.

Now THAT would be a night to remember.

For his part, Tate told AOL’s Patch, it’s not as big a deal as people are making it out to be, that there’s more to high school than a four-hour dance — which, of course, only makes you like the kid more.

Sonali is going to the “regular” prom with a girlfriend. And although Tate said he’ll take photos with her beforehand, then “hang out with her afterwards,” it definitely has to bum him out.

Still, he’s saying he’ll probably let this pass without a fight.

But the prom isn’t until June 4. He’s got time to think — as do others.

Maybe the parents of his classmates demand their money back and throw their support behind the “alternate” prom. Maybe the school officials who rubberstamped this fiasco eventually are voted out of office — or decide that they don’t want to go down in history as “those [expletives] who didn’t let that kid go to his prom.”

The youngsters would benefit from the love and defense of their parents. And know-it-all school officials everywhere might learn a thing or two.

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