May 15, 2011 / 7:12 PM / 8 years ago

Romantic teen gets prom ban lifted and kudos for his gesture

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Move over Casanova. James Tate got his highly publicized ban from the senior prom overturned and has secured his place in the pantheon of romantics.

A Connecticut headmaster reversed her decision this weekend to prohibit Tate from attending his prom as punishment for a stunt he pulled to invite his date.

The ban was imposed after Tate, a senior, sneaked onto school premises before dawn and pasted large cardboard letters onto the building’s facade asking a girl to be his date.

“Certainly for us gentlemen here, James Tate has set for us a new standard for romanticism,” Freeman Burr, superintendent of schools in Shelton, Connecticut, told reporters.

He spoke after Beth Smith, headmaster of Shelton High School, on Saturday said she was dropping the ban after the “international notoriety” it attracted proved a distraction at the public high school.

“Throughout the past week, the level of distraction created by this incident has affected the culture of Shelton High School, one that I have worked hard to establish,” said Smith.

She said Tate and his two accomplices would now be handed “alternate consequences.”

Tate’s outdoor, oversized invitation to his prom read: “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.

News of the ban was picked up by international media and quickly spread online. It earned Tate appearances on television’s late night circuit — “Jimmy Kimmel Live” — and morning shows, including the “Today” show, where he said he hoped his teachers would appreciate his stunt for its “sincerity and creativity.”

One of several pages on the social-networking site Facebook decrying the ban attracted nearly 200,000 supporters, most of whom found Tate’s act to be the sort of sweet, romantic gesture that should be encouraged rather than punished.

Burr called the incident a learning experience, noting “one of the things it does show is students are much more adept at the social networking media than we are in the school system.”

Rodrigues, the object of Tate’s affections, has accepted the invitation to the June 4 prom.

Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Ellen Wulfhorst

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