New prom rules stir controversy

By Casey Film

Prom is supposed to be a time of enjoyment and is considered one of the most exciting and anticipated events of many teenagers’ high school career. Teens have been preparing for this dance for as long as they can remember; picking out the perfect dress, planning how they will do their hair, and, of course, deciding whom they will go with. However, this year many teens’ idea of a “perfect” prom was shattered by some new rules concerning dancing that, according to administrators, are meant to give the dance a safe and enjoyable atmosphere. While some see the rules as outrageous, others do not think these rules will make any difference on their prom experience at all.

In the past there were no formally enforced rules. However, after inappropriate dancing and apparel were continually seen by administrators and parents, many of them believed that the dance floor was in direct need of some new rules and enforcement. Walkersville High School was the first school in the area to adopt new dance guidelines and Middletown High School’s administration followed their lead.

“As teachers and as administrators, we appreciate having these rules in place; we believe kids can still have fun and follow the new rules,” said MHS Assistant Principal Jenny Bartkus.

The rules were distributed to seniors during the senior meeting on April 15. They included such guidelines as the requirement of a photo ID to enter the dance. Other rules that were quick to receive criticism from students regarded sexually explicit dancing such as “grinding,” “freaking,” or “sandwiching.”

”We might as well throw in some ’40s swing music and poodle skirts and we’ll be good to go,” said MHS junior Shannon Sweeney.

Students reacted in various ways, but many feel that the music of today encourages such behaviors and the rules will not stop what is going to happen.

MHS senior Shae Beckner said, “We think of it as the norm; it’s how we dance.”

            Many of the ladies feel some concern about the limits on dresses and clothing.

            The guidelines only restrict the donning of hats, muscle shirts, “booty” dresses, midriff shirts or dresses sporting a plunging neckline. Even so, some girls wonder if they will be given trouble over dresses with open backs, or even sleeveless designs.  MHS senior Hannah Darr confessed a slight unease over the reaction dance chaperones may have about a hole cut in the side of her dress. Although the hole is meant to be fashionable, Darr said, she expects administration “will probably take it too far.”

Another rule that caused confusion was the regulation about not bringing guests in grades K-8 or adults older than 20. Many took this rule the wrong way.

            “I think it’s insulting that they think I would bring anyone in kindergarten to the dance,” said MHS junior Matt Wein.

            Despite some limitations on what is acceptable at this year’s prom, most students feel that the rules really won’t make much of a difference. Some students feel that for the most part, the rules are acceptable and not designed to take away from the dance but, instead, to ensure a smooth, safe experience for everyone.

            “Regardless of the rules on the sheet and all of the rumors, I trust our prom committee to pull through and make it an enjoyable dance for all of us,” said MHS junior Brooke Ritter.

            The administration is confident that these rules will have no effect on who attends the dance.

“The rules won’t have any impact (initially), but when they see we are serious about it, they will back off,” said Bartkus.

            Some believe that the rules will actually encourage students to break them.

“I feel that making a long list of rules just beads on students to want to break them,“ said MHS junior Kyler Swillley.

            However, for those who decide to break the rules, the administration said there will be consequences. Students caught violating the rules will be removed from the dance and their parents will be called, according to Bartkus. This could potentially lead to a suspension and/or expulsion, according to the sheet that was distributed and signed by everyone planning to attend the dance. Some students were surprised that an entire sheet dedicated to stating the rules of the dance was printed and handed out.

            “I understand where they’re coming from, but making a paper and passing it out was a little much,” said Beckner. She later added that she thought printing the rules on the back of the ticket would have been enough.

            While the new rules might appear annoying to many students, the adminstration said that the guidelines are meant for the best.

Bartkus said that the guidelines might cause the number of people going to the dance to dwindle, but soon enough, no one will see the regulations as a drawback.

“The rules will work, over time,” said Bartkus. “It will take time for it to become a part of the culture.”