Tonight marks the official beginning of prom season, with two high schools unleashing their celebratory juniors and seniors on the roads.
School and law enforcement officials are preparing to have enough adults on hand to keep everyone safe.
“We hold (prom) at Chattahoochee Country Club and there are a total of four officers that are there at the event,” Johnson High teacher and prom coordinator Alice Broxton said. “Some of them are school resource officers and two are officers employed by the Chattahoochee Country Club.”
The Chestatee High prom, held at the Gainesville Civic Center, also will have security in the form of the school’s resource officer and hired deputies from the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
Teachers serve as chaperones at the event, both inside and outside in the parking lot. For both schools, the policy is once you leave prom premises, you’re not going back inside.
And there is zero tolerance of alcohol use.
“Of course we have (school resource officers) who are present at the buildings,” Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Nicole Bailes said. “We’ll interact and help look for any sort of alcohol-involved engagement so to speak, with the children.”
To help bring the issue home, the Sheriff’s Office is conducting its annual program for each high school called Fatal Vision, simulating a crash scene.
“We used two vehicles that were involved in pretty severe collisions,” Bailes said. “The ones we used this week were both involved in head-on collisions, so they’re totaled vehicles.”
Chestatee Principal Suzanne Jarrard called it a proactive approach to preventing any problems on prom night. While Johnson students were unable to see the program because of weather concerns, Bailes thinks the message will carry over.
Since both schools are hosting their proms in Gainesville city limits, Bailes also alerted the Gainesville Police Department of a possible increase of teen drivers on the roads tonight.
“It’s not anything major like you would have for a big holiday or anything,” Bailes said. “It’s just something to be prepared for in the event that the kids are more susceptible to engage in alcohol or drugs.
“Of course, under the age of 21, you can go to jail for possession of alcohol. We discourage that. Just be smart, that’s the biggest thing. Use your head. Don’t get out there and be crazy.”
Proms for other schools will be held throughout April.