Hilton Head High Prom Attendees to Face Breathalyzer - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/06/06

Hilton Head High Prom Attendees to Face Breathalyzer

For the most part, students we spoke with are taking the measure in stride. For the most part, students we spoke with are taking the measure in stride.

Prom is right around the corner for many high schoolers throughout our area, and unfortunately it can be coupled with underage drinking. But this year, Hilton Head High School is taking some unique steps to ensure it's a safe and alcohol-free night.

The school is cracking down on underage drinkers. School officials say last year, they had a number of students show up at prom drunk, but this year, students will have to jump through some hoops and even pass a test before they can get into prom.

The buzz in the hallways at Hilton Head High isn't about who's taking whom to prom or who's going to wear what; it's about what they will encounter once they get there. Starting this year, students coming to prom will have to take a Breathalyzer test before entering.

"We're kind of sending a message to students that the focus is to have a good time without being under the influence," said Dr. Helen Ryan, the school's principal.

And it's got students and parents talking. "At first, I heard a lot of people talking about making their own prom parties and not even going to prom, and then it's not such a big deal anymore," noted student Alex Clare.

"I think there's going to be a group of students who won't come, but overall I think there's an overwhelming majority of people who will go no matter what," said Christa Prescott. "I think maybe this way with everyone getting Breathalyzed, that way no one will be drinking so that way there won't be anyone thinking they can slip through the cracks, and then their prom night won't be ruined by having their limos searched and parents called and having to go home."

Abby Schmeichel had a slightly different take. "You have to respect the decision, but it's also kind of an invasion of privacy," she said.

"If it keeps the child from drinking, I'm all for it," one parent told us.

But that's not the only new change. In order for students to get tickets for prom, their parents will have to attend a special meeting with their children at the school.

"We're going to have an interactive activity with parents and students talking about making choices," explained Dr. Ryan. "Students and parents are also going to have to sign a pledge to stay sober on prom."

To help make the decisions to stay sober easier, the school and parents will hold an after-prom party, which will last until 6am.

The school will be sending out a letter to parents about all the changes, and right now this is the only high school in Beaufort County with these new regulations.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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