Mt. Hope High School students are hopeful that school committee members will consider allowing them to leave school early on prom day.
Morgan Chaves, 16, junior class president, spoke to the policy subcommittee of the Bristol Warren Regional School District School Committee Monday night. Currently, students who want to go to the prom must attend a full day of school that day. If students are dismissed early, it must be for a valid reason, such as a medical or legal appointment.
School administrators can deny a student admittance to the prom should they be dismissed early for any other reason.
“We were trying to see if we can change it, to get out of school an hour early,” Morgan told committee members Diana Campbell, Lynn Wainwright and Bill O’Dell. “There’s only so many hair salons in Bristol, and coming from a girl’s point of view, by the time you get out of the senior parking lot, and people who live in Warren get home by 3, or 3:30, (prom preparations) are more rushed than it should be.”
Students get out of school at 2:30 p.m., which leaves them little time to get ready for the prom, with pictures being taken by 4-4:30, Morgan said.
This year, the junior prom takes place on Friday, May 16 at the Atlantic Beach Club in Newport. Historically, proms for both the junior and senior classes have always been on a Friday, explained Ross Hogan, senior class president, who showed up to Monday night’s meeting in support of Morgan’s request.
“A Saturday night is hard to snag because they’re not making money off of us,” he said. “(The venues) would rather book a $40,000-wedding, and serve alcohol.”
Ms. Wainwright suggested that school administrators perhaps plan into their agenda a professional development day to coincide with the students’ prom. However, since prom is in May, that’s a bit late for a professional day, said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mario Andrade.
“For me, it seems like a slippery slope on what constitutes a full day,” said Ms. Campbell. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that kids stay in school, because that’s our priority.”
In 2007, the regulations were changed to further define a full day of school, Mr. Andrade said. Students can no longer leave before the end of their fifth period (1:37 p.m.) and not be considered “absent-dismissed.”
Russ Noble, Dean of Students at Mt. Hope High School, told the sub-committee that the high school administration wasn’t necessarily in favor of, or against, changing the policy to allow for early dismissals for prom.
“My conversations with the administration is that this is not a policy we make,” he said. “So we’ll go to the school committee, and see what they say.”
Before the sub-committee could make any decision, Mr. O’Dell said, the students needed to get all the players on board — the high school administrators, teachers, members of the school improvement team and parents.
“I don’t want to make a decision without there being total agreement at the high school,” he told Morgan.
The students were asked to further research the implementation and criteria for such a policy change and present their findings to the sub-committee in February.