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In practice, this event may be a combined junior/senior dance.
Juniors may also be honored, but would be called "Prom Prince" or "Prom Princess." Other students may be honored with inclusion in a "Prom Court." The selection method for a Prom Court is similar to that of Homecoming Queen/Princess, King, and Court.In the United States, and increasingly in the United Kingdom and Canada, prom is a semi-formal (black tie) dance or gathering of high school students.This event is typically held near the end of the senior year (the last year of high school).Proms figure greatly in popular culture and is a major event among high school students.High school juniors attending the prom may call it "junior prom" while high-school seniors may call it "senior prom" or "senior ball".Inclusion in a Prom Court may be a reflection of popularity of those students elected and their level of participation in school activities, such as clubs or sports.
Similar events take place in many other parts of the world.
In Australia and New Zealand, the terms school formal, and ball are most commonly used for occasions equivalent to the American prom, and the event is usually held for students in senior years, although the bestowing of the regal titles rarely, if ever, occurs. Many schools hold a formal graduation ball for finishing students at the end of the year in place of or as well as a formal.
For juniors there is typically a dance event by the name of a Social. In Ireland a debutante ball or Debs may also be held. The term "prom" is becoming more common in the UK and Canada due to the influence of American films and television, but "Leavers Ball" or "Leavers Do" are more commonly used terms.
In the early days of high school proms, the nighttime dance served a similar function to a debutante ball.
Early proms were times of firsts: the first adult social event for teenagers; the first time taking the family car out after dark; the first real dress-up affair; and so forth.
Proms also served as a heavily-documented occasion, similar to a milestone event such as first communion or a wedding, in which the participants were taking an important step into a new stage in their lives.