The Bristol Warren Regional School Committee voted 7-2 Monday night to allow students attending the dance to leave school before last period to give them time to prepare for the big night. Students lobbied the school committee for a policy change earlier this winter, saying they needed more time off in the afternoon to get ready for the dance. Previously, students who want to go to the prom must attend a full day of school that day. If students are dismissed early, it had to be for a valid reason, such as a medical or legal appointment.
“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,” student Morgan Chaves told the school committee earlier this year.
Students generally leave school at 2:30 p.m., which would leave only a couple hours to prepare before the dance. Pictures before the dance start around 4:30, students noted to the committee.
The early dismissal applies only to the junior prom this year, scheduled for Friday, May 16 at the Atlantic Beach Club in Newport. The senior prom is scheduled for Saturday, May 31 at the Hyatt hotel in Newport. Saturdays are rare for proms because it is generally more expensive to schedule a venue on a Saturday night, precipitating the students’ request.
Most school committee members voiced support for the policy, which is being implemented on a trial basis this year. It will be tied to academic and behavioral standards. “Make it a real incentive to leave early,” school committee member Diana Campbell said.
Marjorie McBride was the only committee member to voice disagreement Monday. “I don’t think there’s any excuse for leaving school early,” she said.