Jim Kirkland sent this article.............
Wednesday, February 04, 2004 By Rebecca Rolfe - Reporter
But just what is Queen of Hearts? Someone outside the Broughton community may look to Queen of Hearts as being just another high school dance, with typical prom dresses and decorations. Their first assumption may prove to be true, however, it is just a scratch of the surface on the dense history that lies beneath the Queen of Hearts tradition.
“Just another high school dance” would be an extreme understatement of this sixty-two year affair, with the first dance being held in 1941 when the student body elected the first Queen of Hearts, Lydia Moore. The “Latipac” and “Hi-Times” databases are filled with feature stories on past Queen of Hearts, with pictures of past Queens, assemblies and the night of the dance. Journalism classes sponsored the voting process, and each student paid one cent per vote they wished to cast. The money from voting went to help publish the “Latipac.”
The names appearing on the ballot were those of senior girls passing all of their classes. The first nine Queens were elected this way, with the voting charge eventually being raised to ten cents and going to the war effort. During the time of World War II, the Broughton community came together to raise money in an effort to aid our troops overseas. All of the money raised from Queen of Hearts, including the ticket sales, went to this effort.
The 1950 Queen of Hearts dance was the first time underclassmen, in addition to seniors, were allowed to have representatives on the court. During this time, Broughton was home to grades eight through twelve, and each grade level had two representatives on the court, with the eighth graders having only one representative. The two members of the court from the senior class went on to serve as the Maid of Honor and the Queen of Hearts. The Queen was chosen much in the same way she is chosen today, with the senior collecting the most votes crowned as Queen.
The 1950 Queen of Hearts also marked the year when the senior class took over the dance as one of its class projects. Seniors were in charge of decorations, refreshments and entertainment preparations. The senior class president also served as the Queen’s escort.
Broughton has also seen those involved with Queen of Hearts go on to become successful celebrities. Clay Aiken, who as a child served as a mascot on the Queen’s court, is perhaps the most famous of the group. The 1955 Queen of Hearts, Faye Arnold, won the title of Mrs. North Carolina after she graduated and advanced to the spot of third runner-up in the Mrs. America pageant. During the 1978 festivities, Broughton student Sharon Lawrence provided the entertainment for that year’s Queen. Lawrence has gone on to be a successful actress, acting in TV’s “NYPD Blue,” “Caroline in the City” and the Broadway production of “Chicago.”
The style of formal attire over the years has varied greatly. During the 1950s, the Queen wore a full-length white dress with Elizabethan style collar and a net train with embroidered hearts. Dressing for Queen of Hearts has also become more expensive over the years. In the 1980s, a typical tuxedo cost $25, and most girls spent no more than $100 for their dresses. In recent years, the Queen has traded in her Elizabethan collars for an elaborate white wedding dress, and girls will dish out as much as $300 for a dress.
“I love everything about Queen of Hearts, except for how much I have to spend on a dress that I will wear for one night,” a senior girl said.
The Queen of Hearts tradition has certainly been passed down within the Parker family. Susan Parker, the 1970 Queen, went on to have two daughters, Macy Parker, and Hannah Parker, who attended Broughton. Both Macy and Hannah served on the Queen’s court. Susan Parker believes that the dance has become much more extravagant since she served on the 1970 court. During her years at Broughton, Parker remembers putting together “minimal decorations” the night before the dance. .
“An effort has been made to include and involve more of the student body,” Parker said about the planning efforts of the current senior class, which began in mid-October.
The senior classes of the past have indeed come together and successfully put on dances with themes such as “Alice’s Wonderland,” “Dorothy’s Emerald City,” “Kind Arthur’s Camelot” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” In 1967, the senior class even managed to have the popular band, The Embers, play at the Saturday night dance. With only minor setbacks, such as a leaking reflection pool at the 1986 dance, the senior classes have always worked hard to put on a successful assembly and memorable dance every year.