The Allegany County school board is set to crush a decades-old promnight tradition of letting students choose beer mugs, wine glasses and brandy snifters as commemorative keepsakes. The five-member board is considering barring items associated with alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs from being used as favors or gifts at school functions. The proposal was on the agenda for last week's meeting.
"We want to do everything in our power to consistently say drugs and alcohol are not a good choice," board President Tim Woodring said.
The proposal doesn't sit well with students who regard the mementos as classy containers for coins, candles or jewelry. Fort Hill High School senior Robin Waltz keeps petals from her rose corsage in an 11-ounce pilsner glass from last year's prom.
The beer glass, purchased with proceeds from the $20 ticket price, is engraved "Love of My Life"-- the prom theme--and "Fort Hill High School Prom 2001."
"It's just something to remember the prom from," Waltz said.
Mandy Richards, another senior, said banning glassware won't affect teen drinking. "If they want to drink, they're going to drink," she said
She and Waltz may volunteer for student committees that choose prom party favors from thick catalogs. One of the biggest, a 526-page book from Stumps of South Whitley, Ind., opens with 100 pages of mugs, martini glasses, champagne flutes and other stemware. Glassware is the top seller at Hardings of Chicago, a prom products merchandiser in Bedford Park, IL.
The catalogs display the glasses empty or filled with candles--no liquids--and shun references to alcohol. Hardings calls a pilsner glass a "flare tumbler"; a martini glass with a bent stem is simply a "bent stem" glass.
Stumps said in a prepared statement that its glassware is intended for use only as party favors. The company said it also offers high schools a free videotape, "Time of Your Life," that strongly discourages drinking and driving. A handful of the nation's 25,000 high schools have expressed concern about glassware prom favors, Wendy Moyle, Stumps' marketing vice president, said. The companies also offer other party favors such as key chains, picture frames, and photo albums.
Fort Hill prom adviser Roni Ringler, a journalism and criminal justice teacher, said glassware has been a prom staple for decades, She got a 24-ounce brandy snifter keepsake at her prom in Butler, Pa., in 1963, she said.
Lorelee Farrell, administrator for health issues, said the issue should not be taken lightly in a county where 83.4 percent of high-school seniors admitted to ever having used alcohol in a recent survey. "This is contradicting all the other things we try to do to help the kids make life choices, to be safe, to not engage in risky activity and not to do anything illegal," she said.