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The Prom is a Privilege
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's, based on a news story I asked you all to comment on last week.

Thirteen graduating students from Quinte Secondary School [in Belleville, Ontario] have given us a whole new reason to despair for our country’s future. Their parents pooled resources to rent a bus to take them to their prom and then to take them to the after-prom party at a private residence where alcohol would be served. The school, however, warned all students that group transportation (which tends to be associated with alcohol) and any kind of intoxication would not be tolerated. Nevertheless, they showed up in a bus, with some of the students already drinking, and they were denied admittance. Several parents are now calling for monetary reimbursement and the firing of some school administrators.

The Belleville daily covered this story in rich detail, accompanied by a photo of the kids, girls holding up their prom dresses. The paper evidently chose to slant this story towards those poor students who missed out on the biggest moment of their high school life.


Those students were told that they were not to arrive in group transportation, and they did. They were told no alcohol would be tolerated, and several of them admitted to a reporter that they ignored that warning. Sounds like an open and shut case to me. After all, going to the prom is not a right; it’s a privilege. And by the way, why do you need to rent transportation to take you to and from the prom to make sure you’re not drinking and driving if you’re not going to drink until you get to the after-prom party? Besides, parents, providing alcohol to minors is still, last time I checked, illegal.

The consequences for breaking the rules were spelled out, and the students chose to disregard them. It is not the school’s fault if girls chose to spend $700 on a dress, and then broke the rules so they couldn’t get in. No one forced these girls to drop that kind of money on a prom dress (I spent less than half of that on my wedding dress, for pity’s sake). No one forced them to disobey the rules. No one forced them to drink.

And what about the other QSS students who were at the prom? Do they not matter? Why should kids who have not had any alcohol have to put up with potentially intoxicated peers at their prom? Besides, if any drunk kids had caused an accident or injury, the school would have been sued. The school had to stand its ground. That’s why I’d have written a much different headline than “Students Lost their Prom and are Angry”. I’d do: “Courageous Principal Stands Her Ground On No-Alcohol Prom”, or “Principal Sticks to Her Guns despite Parents’ Threats”.

Yet while I find the kids’ actions deplorable, we cannot entirely blame them, for they were raised by parents who evidently felt it was more important to be their children’s friends than it was to encourage them to respect authority. That “blame your parents” thing, though, can only last so long once you’re an adult. These kids have now graduated from high school, and so they have entered adulthood. It’s time they owned up.

They made a mistake. And by posing for a picture in the newspaper and complaining about their treatment, they compounded that mistake by broadcasting that error in judgment far and wide. What employer in this community is ever going to hire them? They have shown that they do not respect authority, don’t listen to instructions, think rules are for everyone else, and if anyone challenges them, they raise a huge stink.

So here’s my advice: go to the principal and apologize. Accept responsibility. Be an adult. At least you might get your self-respect back. And then, perhaps you’ll earn the respect of the rest of us in this community, too.

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At 9:57 AM , Blogger Pickle said…

fantastic. I hope everyone one of them involved reads this.


At 12:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

This really boils down to a problem that so many kids have- they are selfish. For one reason or another, it seems that most parents have given up teaching their children that their own personal wants and needs aren't automatically more important than the wants and needs of the people around them.
Up until recently, I was in charge of an afterschool group of elementary aged kids. It amazed me at how self-serving those kids were, even those coming from Christian homes. There wasn't a day that went by where some form of the phrase "You aren't any more special than they are." came out of my mouth. I understood that the younger ones had difficulty thinking of others, but even some of the older kids had problems with allowing others the same courtesy they demanded for themselves.


At 12:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Well said!


At 4:13 PM , Blogger Jamie said…

Loved this! You did a fantastic job covering this situation. Very well done.


At 7:06 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…

Well said, Sheila. I hope the community rallies round the principal. Even more I hope those kids learn a lesson... they always come cheaper when you're young than when you're out in the adult world. Even at $700 a dress ;D



At 7:09 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

I was talking to a neighbour today and apparently one of the parents is a police officer, and he's been making a big stink. I wonder if all 13 of the kids are really involved in this, or if some are embarrassed now. I don't know. I do know that 10 of them were in the picture in the paper, so at least 10 aren't showing much shame!


At 9:21 PM , Anonymous Heather said…

Well said! Why do so many people look at these things as rights? I'm glad the school stood its ground, and wish many more would do the same.


At 12:39 PM , Blogger Lisa said…

That was a great column! You said it perfectly!


At 3:40 PM , Blogger Mary said…

In some places, it seems to be expected, even by the teens' parents, that the teens will break all the rules and do illegal things at prom. What is this world coming to? If we can't do something illegal, we can't have fun??


At 3:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I heard of one high school party or dance (don't know what kind of party or dance) near where I live where the PARENTS snuck in alcohol for the teens to drink!!! Everybody turned a blind eye. When one of the Christian teachers in the school protested and said it was wrong, she was threatened by the school with losing her job, and ostracised by most of the community for a while (she did not lose her job, btw). What is this world coming to? What HAS it come to??


At 9:01 AM , Anonymous Kimber Bogema said…

A police officer encouraging children to break the rules. Hmmm. Job security?

Children and young adults these days don't have any respect for anyone else, for a large part. I tried very hard to drill that into the children I had contact with. Sad to say, the exterior influences have mainly won out.

I have to say though, that they are a product of their environment. So many adults/parents only obey the law when convenient or when the consequence is heavy.
One only has to look at accessible parking and how widely it is abused to understand where morality is headed.

Great column Sheila. Hope the Principal wins out. What a ridiculous thing to be public about.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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