Three cheers for the New York Catholic high school principals who cancelled their proms on principle. Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland, principal of Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, cancelled his school’s prom because he was weary of the financial excess, ostentatiousness, and debauchery accompanying many senior proms. Nearby Chaminade High School soon followed suit.
Hoagland cited the “bacchanalian aspects” of school proms. In a letter to parents he said, “It is not primarily the sex/booze/drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be; it is rather the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity’s sake — in a word, financial decadence.”
Hoagland later accepted student a recommendation to substitute a modestly priced, dress code governed dinner cruise. In the end, there will be a celebration, but it will be more affordable and safer. The Rev. James Williams, president of Chaminade, said the revised celebration “is much more consistent with the values we adhere to.”
More high schools throughout the country should take a page from the courage these Catholic institutions have displayed. For too long, proms have been taken over by drunken driving and loss of virginity resulting more in a teenage nightmare than a senior class celebration. People know this, but they wink at it like it’s some kind of essential right of passage. Meanwhile, kids die on the highway or wake up with hangovers, embarrassment, pregnancy, or emotional baggage some carry for years thereafter.
Hopefully these high schools will start a corrective swing of the pendulum back toward common sense. Our teenagers will be the better for it.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006
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