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June 8, 2001

Prom

While the seniors danced at Prom Night 2001 in Hoisington, Kansas—a town of about 3,000—a tornado hit the town, destroying about a third of it. When they emerged from the dance, they discovered what had happened, and in the weeks that followed, they tried to explain to themselves why the tornado hit where it did. Plus other stories that happen on Prom Night.

Prom night, Baltimore, 1977.

Prologue

A high school boy explains how prom is the culmination of his effort to get in with a cool group of people. (5 minutes)

Tornado Prom

Susan Burton reports on Prom Night 2001 in Hoisington, Kansas, a town of about 3,000. While the seniors danced, a tornado hit the town, destroying about a third of it. When they emerged from the dance, they discovered what had happened, and in the weeks that followed, they tried to explain to themselves why the tornado hit where it did. (25 minutes)

Song:

“Tornado on the Dance Floor” by Greg Hill, Matt Shupe and Jason Bitner (written for <i>This American Life</i>)

Save The Last Dance For Me...Again

Host Ira Glass talks with Francine Pascal, who's written or invented the plot lines for over 700 books for teenagers in the various Sweet Valley High series....Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley University, Sweet Valley Senior Year. She explains why a prom story is a must for teen movies and TV shows. (6 minutes)

Song:

“You Said Yes” by Nathaniel Raymond and the Implications

Only One Thing Missing

In this Act, we argue that epicenter of prom genius—the place where America's prom future is being born—is the town of Racine, Wisconsin. In Racine, they've added one ingredient to prom that takes it to a whole new level of intensity. Reported by Wendy Dorr.

Special thanks to OVO Incorporated, an arts collective in New York. It's from them we heard about the prom in Racine. They're making a film about it called World's Best Prom and were very helpful. For information about them and their film, visit their website. (10 minutes)
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