An Alabama high school has refused to let a student take his grandma to prom.
Bryce Maine and his grandma, Catherine Maine—“Nanny,” as he calls her—have always been exceptionally close. “She was basically my mother,” Bryce said; after his parents split, Catherine helped her son raise him, and the high school senior still keeps a change of clothes at her house eight miles away.
“We were talking about prom one day,” Bryce told Heat Street. “I was like, ‘Nanny, who did you take to prom?’ She said, ‘Well, I’ve never been.’ … Every woman deserves to go to prom, no matter what age they are—especially if they’ve never been before.”
Bryce says he asked administrators at Eufaula High School whether he could take her, but they were noncommittal. He decided to ask her anyway, going to Wal-Mart and buying supplies, painting his hands and printing them on a canvas for her.
“He told me I needed to go to the school, and I thought he was getting a football award,” Catherine told Heat Street. “He tells me to look up, and I’m looking up on the balcony, and he’s got a sign that says, ‘Prom?’ ‘Will you go to prom with me,’ he said. And I said yes.”
Catherine prepared for the big dance, even buying a cream spaghetti-strap gown with beading and embroidery on the bodice.
But when Bryce finally went to buy the tickets, his principal turned him down. The school has a policy against prom attendees over the age of 20. “We do not chance leaving no stone unturned when it comes to safety,” the principal said in a statement. “Most secondary schools have an age limit for prom participants.”
Bryce said the decision shocked him. “I was mad, sad, just really didn’t understand why,” he said. “I was heartbroken to tell her, because I didn’t know how to tell her.”
Outraged, one of Bryce’s cousins took to Facebook, posting a photo of Nanny and the high school senior.
The post went viral, picked up first by local media earlier this week, then by the national press on Thursday. And Bryce says his fellow students have also championed his cause.
“Everybody’s just screaming down the hallways, ‘Hashtag-Let-Nanny-Go-To-Prom,’” he said. “It’s just crazy how many people support me.
On Monday, Bryce and his dad have a meeting with the board of education. If they say no, he’s still planning on donning a tuxedo on prom night and taking his grandma to a fancy, out-of-town dinner.
“It would really thrill him more than it would thrill me,” Catherine said. “This is his last year of high school, and I’ve never been to a prom, so he wanted to take me. We’d have good memories.”