DHS, Greensboro expecting quiet prom nights

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 8, 2005

Much has been made nationally about teenagers going out on prom night, becoming intoxicated, and endangering their lives by getting behind the wheel. But thanks to years and years of good behavior, there’s not much of it being made at Demopolis High.

“It’s just not a huge concern,” says Amie Attaway, director for this year’s DHS Prom, to be held at the school gymnasium Saturday night starting at 9 p.m. “We have good kids. They stay here until the prom is over at 12. It just hasn’t been an issue.”

Attaway is directing the DHS prom for the first time, taking over for longtime director Gail Flowers. Flowers said that alcohol had, in her experience, never been an issue with DHS’s prom night.

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“In all years I have been involved with prom,” Flowers said, “we have never once had a student show up who was drinking or intoxicated.”

Because of the complete lack of past incidents, Attaway said the school isn’t planning any special projects or assemblies as preventative measures. The school’s no-alcohol-or-drugs policy will be enforced as always, and the prom will be closely supervised, but Attaway said no particular efforts to curb alcohol use would be in place.

In fact, so quiet have past prom nights been, Attaway and Flowers said a “Prom Promise” program in place several years ago (in which students voluntarily signed a pledge not to drink on prom night) has since been discarded.

The attitude at Greensboro West, while not quite as calm as the one at Demopolis High,

isn’t exactly one of paranoia, either. Greensboro prom director Michelle Culpepper said that she was confident Friday night’s prom would pass without incident, although the school does take steps to ensure students have a safe and alcohol-free evening.

“To attend the prom, the kids have to sign a contract,” Culpepper says. “They sign, their parents sign, and their date signs. The contract states that the student will not bring alcohol or drugs to the prom, and that they must stay at the prom until a designated time.”

The school also uses anti-alcohol promotional materials provided by the Safe-and-Sober Prom program to educate students about the dangers of drinking.

“We always have posters they’ve printed up hanging on the wall during the week of prom,” she says. “We make sure students have the different brochures we’re given on alcohol use. Some of them come with little product samples, for example a packet of Skintimate shaving lotion for the girls. That’s what we do.”

The Safe-and-Sober Prom program is a project of Montgomery’s Council on Substance Abuse, an affiliate of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence. A press release issued by the COSA-NCADD highlights that April is national Alcohol Awareness Month, and calls on administration, faculty, and parents to work together in combating prom night alcohol use.

“Youth today are bombarded by advertisements, movies, and music that tell them to have the time of their life alcohol or other drugs have to be included in the plans,” the release states. “To ensure that local high school students have the prom night they wish for and stay safe it will take a community effort.”

Part of the efforts suggested by the release include scheduling an alcohol-free “community event” to “ensure that teens have a fun and most importantly safe place” to go to afterwards.

Even if Demopolis High’s prom officials felt that such an event was necessary, it would likely go nearly unattended. Attaway said that one possible reason Demopolis has had so little trouble on prom night is that prom is simply not the all-important event it once was.

“The prom here is not that big,” she says. “The number of kids coming to prom has decreased over the last ten years. Unfortunately, it’s just not that big a deal anymore to a lot of students.”

Flowers offered another sensible explanation.

“I’ll quote our assistant principal on this one,” she said. “The kids behave when they get dressed up. They’re not going to put on their tuxedo or evening gown, get their hair done, and then go out and act like a fool.”