Safe & Sober

Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Schools take measures to keep teens safe during and after prom.

Prom is a time of extravagance for most juniors and seniors, but students at one American high school recently went too far.

Problems at New Jersey's Kellenberg Memorial High School cause principal Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland to cancel prom because of what he called the "bacchanalian aspects."

He is quoted as saying, "Kellenberg is willing to sponsor a prom, but not an orgy."

But area students are not in danger of losing their prom, and local administrators say they don't see the sex, drugs and alcohol atmosphere that Kellenberg does.

"It's become decadence, it's become thousands of dollars," Notre Dame Regional High School principal Brother David Migliorino said. "We don't have the problems that happen on the East Coast."

Only Notre Dame holds an after-prom party where students are locked in for the evening from 12:45 a.m. until 5 a.m.

Because the students are locked in for the night, if a student leaves the prom early, the parents are called as the student is leaving and the parents are then required to call Migliorino as soon as the student arrives at home, he said.

There is constant communication between the parents and staff at Notre Dame during the evening, Migliorino said.

Other schools do not have an organized party, but encourage their students to be aware of the consequences of their decisions.

"I have admonished many a student upon leaving prom to please be careful, but beyond that, there's not much I really can do but pray for their safety," Central High School principal Mike Cowan said.

The whole idea behind prom is to be around other students in a nonschool setting without drugs and alcohol. It's a situation where the students are around friends, but don't have temptations, said Saxony Lutheran High School principal Craig Ernstmeyer.

Eagle Ridge Christian School students sign an honor code at the beginning of the year that says, "I pledge to keep my total being under subjection from all immoral acts and illegal acts whether on or off school grounds. To this end, I will not take any illegal drugs, commit any illicit sexual acts including fornication or homosexual behavior, drink alcoholic beverages of any kind, use any type of tobacco product or commit any behavior that is contrary to Eagle Ridge's handbook," administrative assistant Sarah Hess said.

So far, Eagle Ridge has had few problems with students signing the pledge and then violating it.

"We have very strict rules on what activities the kids can be involved in and what they can't be involved in, whether it's on school property or off school property," Hess said.

Area public schools don't have a signed honor code, but they still want to make sure their students are making good decisions as they leave the prom dance.

"We don't have any preventive measures in place for after the official school event has come to an end. We remain genuinely concerned about our kids after the event, but those are decisions that kids and parents have to make," Cowan said.

Jackson principal Rick McClard agrees.

"In all the years I've been here we've had almost no problems with prom," he said.

As far as keeping the costs down, Jackson has tried to keep decorations at a minimum.

But they can't stop students from spending thousands of dollars on their gown or tuxedo.

"We don't have any influence on what our kids spend on their prom attire, and I am not sure we should, that's a family decision," Cowan said.

There are guidelines as far as what kind of dresses, tuxes and attire are acceptable at all of the schools.

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