Arlington High School administrators have suspended school dances because an increasing number of students are drinking alcohol and dancing inappropriately at the school functions.
Mary Villano, the interim principal at the school, sent a newsletter to parents Monday saying the moratorium will be in place until administrators can address growing concerns about behavior at the dances.
“It’s at the point where we’re worried something tragic will happen,’’ Villano said.
Over the past couple of years, Villano said, the high school has seen an increasing number of incidents involving students drinking at dances. At dances, school officials ask students suspected of drinking to take Breathalyzer tests before admitting them to the dance. But students still find ways to sneak alcohol into the dances, she said.
At every dance in the past few years, at least a couple of students have been asked to leave and have then been suspended, because of drinking, Villano said. This school year, she said, some students have vomited and been taken to the hospital from dances because they were intoxicated.
At the same time, Villano said school officials also believe the dancing has become too sexual, including a dance style called grinding, in which students are in close physical contact.
If school officials close their eyes to the dancing, Villano said, then students may think it is acceptable. School officials have decided it is time to address the matter, she said.
School Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said she supports the decision to suspend the dances, because she would rather have a proactive discussion about appropriate behavior with students than wait until a tragedy occurs after a dance.
“I think it’s great for the kids to have the opportunity to get together and have fun, but with those opportunities come responsibilities,’’ Bodie said.
Villano plans to meet with parents in December to discuss the moratorium. In January, school officials will hold discussion groups with students in an effort to reach an agreement on acceptable behavior for dances.
While some students are concerned that a semiformal dance in the spring and the prom could be canceled, Villano said she has not yet made that decision. But if the school, parents, and students cannot agree on rules for the dances, she said they may cease altogether at the high school.
“But I don’t think it’s going to go that far,’’ she said.
Brock Parker can be reached at Brock.firstname.lastname@example.org.