LEXINGTON, MASS. — At Lexington High School, juniors and seniors this spring will have to travel to their prom by chartered trolley or coach bus. Lexington's attempt to take away students' wheels on prom night mirrors what only a few schools are trying, officials of state and national organizations say. But it is part of a broad movement by schools in recent years to prevent drinking at pre-prom parties. Other efforts include conducting sobriety tests at prom entrances and signing contracts that pledge good behavior.
In many cases, the restrictions have exposed a generational divide: Students say the efforts strangle their independence and diminish what should be one of their most memorable high school experiences. Adults maintain that the moves can save lives. "Nothing ruins high school prom memories like a tragedy," said Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.
At Lexington High School, officials began exploring the idea of busing students to the prom after a handful of students smuggled flasks of liquor into last year's senior prom. The school initially pitched the bus idea as voluntary, but parents and police pushed for mandating it after former Lexington High student Andrew Stone died in a car accident in January.
"We as a community, Lexington, need to do more to address drugs and alcohol abuse, and the dangers it presents to students," said Michael Jones, the school principal and the former principal at Cohasset Middle-High School, which requires students to ride trolleys to the proms. "We have an ongoing problem with students drinking before or during dances. It's a game students play with us."
All students will be required to take the district-provided transportation to the junior prom in May at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge and to the senior prom in June at a Copley Square hotel. Students attending the prom will pay a transportation fee, which could add $11 or more to a ticket price, based on other schools' charges.
Students who drive themselves or rent limos for prom night often drink alcohol on the way. They also sneak in flasks or nips for consumption during the event, something buses alone cannot deter, school officials said.
A few students said they supported the new policy, believing monitoring by chaperones on the bus will curb drinking. "It kind of ruins the feel of the prom, not renting a limo, but at the same time it's probably necessary because of last year's prom and Andrew Stone," said Nico Christiansen, a 17-year-old senior.
Area schools such as Cohasset, Marblehead, and Silver Lake that mandate busing say the policy helps keep students sober before and during the prom. To prevent pre-prom drinking, parents throw alcohol-free parties on town commons or school grounds.
Source: The Boston Globe