NEW YORK (Reuters) - A student who attached an oversized invitation to the prom date of his dreams onto the facade of his Connecticut school has been banned from the senior prom.
The stunt by James Tate, who sneaked before dawn onto the grounds of Shelton High School in Shelton, Connecticut, earned him a growing surge of support on Wednesday, including from local politicians, who think the punishment for his romantic gesture is excessive.
"There was no vandalism, he did not disfigure the school, there was no spray-paint, he just asked in very unusual way the special girl in his life to go to prom with him," Jack Finn, a Shelton city alderman, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"I think this whole thing is out of control and I think the school should reconsider the punishment," Finn said.
With the help of two friends, Tate sneaked onto school premises in the middle of the night last week and pasted large white cardboard capital letters on a wall by the main entrance, saying: "Sonali Rodrigues will you go to prom with me? HMU - Tate." HMU, an abbreviation for "hit me up", is the text-message equivalent of RSVP.
The school handed Tate, who is a senior, and his accomplices a one-day suspension and banned them from the prom for trespassing and for causing a safety hazard, Finn said. Beth Smith, the school's headmaster, did not respond to calls seeking comment, nor did the city's superintendent of schools.
Several of Tate's neighbors have already said they will organize an alternative prom for the banned student, an effort that is finding growing support online.
Finn said that he had received more than a thousand e-mails in support of Tate after his contact details were included in a petition circulating on the Internet.
Although it may now be a moot point, Rodrigues, the object of Tate's affections, said yes, according to local media reports.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Tim Gaynor)