The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 26, 2001


CCHS dances suspended
Concern over drinking, provocative dancing and inappropriate clothes

Dances at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School are suspended over concerns about appropriate behavior at the dances. Principal Elaine DiCicco says the decision was made in response to students drinking before dances, and dancing and clothing styles that have become more provocative over the years. She said the administration along with faculty and class advisors decided, "We needed to stop and take a look at what is appropriate at the dances." The principal, who is retiring this June after 24 years in her job at CCHS, believes the time has come to recognize and address these teen issues.

Although everyone was well aware that consuming alcohol before dances is not tolerated, there were always some students arriving at dances who obviously had been drinking said DiCicco. CCHS guidelines for appropriate attire prohibit bare midriffs and bare backs, but some students wore backless tops and other revealing clothing to the video dance last fall. In addition, a type of intimate dancing between girls and boys called "grinding" caused school officials to cancel the December dance, and asked students and faculty to work out a solution to the problem. "Alcohol use and provocative dancing stand out as the main issues," Dean of Students Peter Badalament said, "with dress adding to the problem."

Students part of the solution

In December DiCicco asked homeroom teachers to work with students to brainstorm solutions, rather than have adults make all the decisions. Two possible solutions students suggested were to have a supper before a dance and to have a contract signed by parents and students, agreeing to appropriate rules of conduct at a dance. Another solution is for juniors and seniors to use positive peer pressure to set the standards for younger high school students by modeling proper "decorum and dress," reports Badalament.

"I'm pleased to see how many students take issues seriously," DiCicco said of the response, adding "Students are willing to step up to the plate and address it. We don't give high school students enough credit. Given an opportunity, they can prove they are more responsible."

Student proposals to remedy the situation are now being discussed by the school administration who expect to make a decision in about a week about implementing changes and possibly reinstating the dances. Other events will continue.

Each year there are several dances including a Halloween dance and a video dance in the fall, one in December and a luau in February. For each dance, the school hires a Concord police officer who is on duty at the door as students enter. Parent chaperones, administrators and teachers also attend each dance to help supervise the social events. A policy, already set by the school to prevent alcohol from entering the building, requires that students leave their bags outside the dance. Students are not permitted to leave early unless a parent is notified, or to return after leaving the dance.

The annual "Battle of the Bands," an event when different student groups perform has not been suspended and will be held this Saturday night from 7-11 p.m. at the high school. The semiformal and the senior prom are not affected by the decision to suspend the other dances and will be held this spring.

Area high schools face similar issues

Acton-Boxborough High School Vice Principal Susan Atwater-Rhodes says while that school has had problems with individual students drinking, student dancing is also an issue. "It's difficult to watch," she said of the dancing. "It's very intimate." The school administration is working with student groups to come up with guidelines for appropriate conduct, she said. At Lincoln-Sudbury High School, Activity Director Nancy O'Neill and an administrative team review proposals from various groups for dances. Things have gone successfully this year, she says. However in the past some proposals for dances were not approved when misconduct at a previous dance affected other dances that year.

Bedford High School Principal Jonathan Sills said although dances have not been suspended there, "Pre-drinking or drinking before a dance is a significant issue." Students are closely supervised at the dances and are removed if they are intoxicated. "The issue of student drinking is a shared responsibility between schools, parents and the community," he said.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito