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In the United States and Canada, a prom, short for promenade, is a semi-formal (black tie) dance held at the end of an academic year. In the United Kingdom, the term is more widely understood to be in reference to a season of classical concerts or "proms", which have been held between July and September since 1895, today run by the BBC. The British synonym for the North American event would be Leavers' Ball, Leavers' Dinner, Formal or informally Leavers' Do, closer to the Australian description, although in the UK, many schools have called the above events proms in imitation of the North American tradition. In Canada and Australia the terms Grad or Formal are most common and the event is usually only held for those in their graduating year of high school or middle school.
While smaller schools may hold a school prom open to the entire student body, large high schools may hold two proms, a junior prom for those finishing their 11th grade year and a senior prom for those who are finishing their high school years. When the junior and senior proms are combined, it is sometimes traditional to have the junior class plan and organize the prom. Proms are mostly attended by juniors and seniors, but some schools allow all classes to attend, usually requiring that one of the couple be an upperclassman.
The name is derived from the late nineteenth century practice of a promenade ball. The end of year tradition stemmed from the graduation ball tradition.
Pre-prom activities will typically include a visit to friends' homes for group photographs.
In North America, a group of friends might rent a limousine to transport up to ten people to prom.
Common prom activities include (but are not limited to) dining, dancing, the crowning of a prom King and Queen, and socializing.