Not a fan of the Man POMs


It is a general assumption that high school culture, such as clubs and assemblies, should encourage student morale and positive messages. However, when a specific Arvada West tradition promotes unfair gender roles, tasteless implications, and lack of respect for other organizations at the school, it is fair to assume it to be more harmful than helpful to the student culture.

Performances by the Arvada West Man POMs have been a part of A-West assemblies for years. According to A-West teacher and Student Council sponsor Lindsey Welsh, their performances were originally supposed to be a comedic take on the routine of the female POMs. They are choreographed by the POMs captains, and are required to have their routine approved by Welsh. Their inclusion in assemblies was designed to provide an entertaining spectacle for students in the bleachers that included impressive stunts and organized dance while still ultimately being amusing. In recent years, however, that focus has dissolved, an unfortunate truth that was reinforced by the most recent performance at the Wish Week assembly this February.

Many Arvada West students felt thoroughly nonplussed or vastly underwhelmed as the Man POMs took the floor this year. Sporting masks, ripped crop tops and skin-tight shorts with no apparent theme, they embarked upon a short dance sequence with little coherent subject matter. Their display featured a series of sporadic dance moves with very limited congruity, many of which could hardly be considered school appropriate. Unlike the female POMs, their routine lacked both preparedness and meaning, which left the question as to why it was inserted into the assembly at all.

This year is not the first in which demonstrations by the Man POMs have been confusingly crude or bizarre. In previous years they have shown up in clothing as ridiculous as animal onesies, and completed moves more suited to Homecoming night than an in-school assembly. Welsh admits that in recent years the choreographers have “lost sight a little bit of what the routine is supposed to look like.” She also stated that many of the things she requested that they fix when approving their routine, such as moves that were overtly sexual, were still included in the performance.

Arvada West junior and Man POMs member Trey Wallen reveals that they often have to go back through the approval process up to four times due to unsuitable content in their routine. However, this fact has failed to raise any red flags for any of those involved that the nature of their program might be objectionable.

Shows by the Man POMs have become so disorganized and underdeveloped that they border on offensiveness toward the young women they were originally supposed to emulate. While female cheer and POMs members are held to high standards by coaches and other students at the school, wearing specific uniforms and practicing hard before each performance, Man POMs are generally cheered on simply for running onto the floor. Their “costumes,” especially those that they wore this year, are technically not permitted by school dress code, and more importantly, made up of articles that any female would most likely be severely ridiculed for wearing.

Arvada West music teacher, Craig Melhorn, shares his thoughts on the program from the standpoint of the high school staff:

“There are certain aspects of the performances at times that can be inappropriate or insensitive to some social norms or to the student body,” Melhorn says. Hesitant as he is to ridicule the boys themselves, he readily admits that their demonstrations can be offensive, both by disregarding proper conduct in school and by overacting gender stereotypes.

It seems unfair to both young women and men that such different standards are held for each gender. Why aren’t female POMs commended more for their legitimate sport when Man POMs do little else than flaunt male arrogance? Why shouldn’t the boys strive for excellence in their craft the way the girls do? What sort of social pressure demands that the women’s performance contain a semblance of seriousness and intention, while the boys are to be viewed merely as comedic in their efforts (or lack thereof)?

“It’s just a bunch of kids having fun,” Wallen explains when asked how he responds to members of the staff and student body who are offended by the program. “If there’s need for change, then that’s ok.”

That could be considered a monumental understatement. It would seem change is the only thing there is a need for at this point.

The capacity of the boys to improve is not in question, but rather the capacity of the program. More effective screening, specific guidelines for the choreographers, and increased integrity on the part of the members could do wonders in restoring the program to what it was formerly meant to be. However, by following their current path, Man POMs is geared toward becoming a beacon of social injustice and will most likely face elimination. It is unlikely that many will be sorry to see them go.