After troubles with both the senior prom and graduation this past June, Island Trees High School officials approached the board of education with a new plan of action for the 2012-13 school year.
Since 2010, underage drinking and drug use has been a major issue at the district's senior prom. While Principal Nicholas Grande noted that there was a vast improvement since from 2010 to 2011, an incident this past June has sparked a need for change.
All attending students were required to sign an agreement promising they would arrive to the prom by 7 p.m. and refrain from drinking and drug use. One particular load of students was more than an hour late and their limousine contained bottles of alcohol.
"It brought up a couple of different problems," Grande said. "Several of the students admitted there was drinking and at that point we called their parents to pick them up, but it got completely out of hand."
"We've been thinking about changes for a couple of years and after this night we knew we needed a plan," he added. "We've come up with an idea to invite all the students to the high school for pictures in the courtyard with a red carpet entrance and refreshments and put the students on a coach bus chaperoned by our staff to go to the prom. They'd be brought right back to the high school for the post prom breakfast afterwards."
Grande continued to say that this plan could potentially save students and families money compared to a limousine, as each coach bus holds about 55 students for a total of $850.
Assistant Principal Pamela Hostetter added that a central location and form of transportation might be more appealing to students who steer clear of prom night.
"Some kids shy away from the prom because they're not in with a certain crowd or a certain group getting a limo," she explained. "This may make it more open for everybody."
Board members agreed that it was a good plan, but they weren't sure it would stop the underage drinking.
"If your real issue is that the alcohol is churning this problem, the bus plan may not alleviate it," said President Patricia Mahon.
"If they're going to drink, they're going to drink, but I think this is a step in the right direction to get everyone to the prom safely," added trustee Daniel Donahue.
Mahon closed the discussion saying that the district will reach out to surrounding districts who have implemented similar plans as well as breathalyzer tests before they move forward.
In regards to graduation, the principals suggested moving to an off premise location in the coming years. Before 2010, graduation was held on Sunday morning where extreme heat posed a problem. The district decided to move the ceremony to Friday evening, but haven't had the best of luck with rain and thunderstorms.
"You don't have to worry about the weather or turning people away when we can only offer three tickets to our indoors ceremony," said Hostetter.
The board agreed and is beginning to look into facilities at Hofstra University and Old Westbury.
What do you think of the board's plan to curb underage drinking at prom? Tell us in the comments below.