My ad agency worked with an interesting client a few years ago. They were in the hazardous waste industry and manufactured a handheld raman laser spectrometer.
Don't worry. I don't for a minute expect you to understand what that is (my creative team and I certainly didn't until we were charged with marketing it). But, essentially, you can point it at an unknown substance and within minutes, know the chemical makeup of it. So, for example, you would know whether what looked like a harmless bottle of spring water was really filled with some other clear liquid. Bug poison, for example.
If I didn't know how severely underfunded my daughter's public high school is, I would suggest that they buy one. It might make all our lives easier.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Time flies. The snow has finally melted (except in the parking lots at the local grocery store and YMCA, where they had plowed it into mountains, which have yet to disappear). Three of the four quarters of my daughter's junior year are behind us. Successfully, thank goodness. And ...
We are only a couple of weeks from prom.
The tough parts are behind us. Finding the right dress, waiting for a "promposal" (spectacular, btw, watch for details in a post to come). The next step on the road to junior prom is the paperwork.
And there's a significant amount of it.
This afternoon, my daughter brought home a very serious-looking document. On official school letterhead (and for some reason, printed on blue paper, maybe to prevent its being lost in the abyss known as the backpack), is our "Permission Slip to Attend Junior Prom."
If you think I'm exaggerating as to the serious nature of this communique, let me excerpt it for you here:
Policies, Procedures, and expectations for all students and their Guests:
• All students who are attending the junior prom are expected to be in school the day of the prom
• All students and guests should be at the high school by 5:30 pm
• Please do your best to carpool to the high school, the parking lot will be crowded
• All students and guests must check in at the school and ride the bus to and from the prom
• Be prepared to have purses and pockets searched (no backpacks allowed)
• Be prepared to be subject to random breathalyzer
• No guests allowed who are 21 or older
• Any guest who is 18 or older and not enrolled in high school must be CORI checked
• All students and their guests must board the bus when directed to do so, to return to the high school
All students and their guests are expected to behave in a manner that shows respect for themselves and others. Students who violate this policy will be asked to leave the prom. The student's legal guardian(s) will be called and must come pick up the student and guest immediately. All school rules and consequences apply. Smoking and tobacco are NOT allowed.
There's then a place for my daughter to print and sign her name. Then, there's a separate special message for her father and me:
To the Legal Guardian:
I understand that my son/daughter is attending the Junior Prom. Should he/she engage in behavior that is not in accordance with the rules and regulations, I will be called and expected to pick up my son/daughter immediately. If I am unable to be reached, my child will be placed in protective custody with the police until I can be contacted. If there is a medical emergency, a chaperone will accompany my son/daughter to the nearest hospital.
And at this point, we sign and provide a phone number where we can be reached during the event itself. There's a final asterisked warning to all of us:
* A prom ticket cannot be purchased until this form has been returned
Okay. Now, I do understand that prom nights have historically been notorious for underage drinking. Friends of mine (who didn't grow up in midtown New York) have told me about classmates who had serious accidents, in some cases died, driving home from a less rigorously supervised prom. I really do want my daughter and her peers to be safe.
But, I can't help feeling that this is taking things a little too far. "Subject to a random breathalyzer?" Really?
It worries me no end that my daughter and her classmates are treated as though they're already guilty and must constantly prove their innocence. Take it from a native New Yorker, this is a fairly sleepy little town. I don't think there is much going down in the way of truly dangerous delinquent behavior. The bulk of the student body is too busy playing field hockey, rounding out their college resumes with community service and studying for their SATs. As far as drugs are concerned, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the students are on anti-anxiety meds, but not much else.
Then again, I guess I should be grateful. Really. I mean most kids in juvie probably don't get to have a junior prom.
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