By Caitlin DeLuca
The Williamston Post
Williamston High School’s junior-senior prom will be on April 30, and the school is making safety a number one priority.
The main concern in terms of safety is underage drinking, according to WHS principal Dr. Jeff Thoenes.
“We emphasize as best we can that the students be safe and make good decisions, especially encouraging them not to drink,” said Dr. Thoenes.
“When I first got here, about seven years ago, I noticed that kids were coming to public events and school functions intoxicated. So, we purchased a breathalyzer and announced it to discourage student drinking,” he said.
Dr. Thoenes said that this has worked very well, though it hasn’t erased all problems in relation to drinking.
“To say that it has ended all issues with students drinking would not be true. This year we found a girl with alcohol at lunch not once but twice,” said Dr. Thoenes.
Underage drinking on prom night does not occur just in Williamston, but is a nationwide problem.
According to a survey done by AAA which consisted of around 1500 teens between the ages of 16-19, 31% of high school teens said it would be likely that their friends will be under the influence of alcohol or drugs sometime during the prom and graduation season.
An even more frightening statistic from that study is that 87% of teens believe their peers would be more likely to drink and drive than call their parents because they are afraid of getting in trouble.
“Drunk driving is always a concern, prom or not,” said Officer Don Smith of the Williamston Police Department.
“My number one priority is getting drunk drivers off the road,” Smith said
The prom will be held at Hawk Hollow Golf Course, which is in Bath Township, not far from Williamston. However, since there will be driving involved, students should be conscientious.
“We will be amping up patrols that evening for when they’re coming back,” said Smith.
According to Dr. Thoenes, there have been no auto accidents or traffic violations (like driving past curfew) since he has been principal.
Along with prom chaperones, there are usually police stationed at the event, just in case they are needed.
“I think [the students are] pretty safe, with chaperones they obviously have, teachers, parents…I would assume they have definite control over that nowadays,” said Brandi Avery, store manager of The Wedding Gallery, which also sells prom dresses.
In the end, Dr. Thoenes just wants the students to have fun and be safe.
“Focus on the fun and the fond memories and make choices that if it were a headline a newspaper you would be proud to be associated with it,” he said.