Remember mugs and champagne glasses as prom souvenirs? Forget them.
"We have decided not to give any mug or anything that would indicate drinking is all right," said Mary Massaquoi, sponsor of the juniorclass at Howard High School.
Howard High juniors and seniors will receive a rose and a vase atthe prom. Wilde Lake High prom sponsors will give out photo album covers. At Glenelg High, students buying prom tickets will receive freekey chains imprinted with the words, "Steer clear of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs toward a bright future in Howard County schools." The keychains are sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
An effort to convince teen-agers that they can have a good time on prom night without alcohol has been standard practice in county schools for the last several years. Proms, however, have not generally been followed by the chemical-free activities that parent and school organizations now regularly sponsor after graduation.
At Howard High this spring, the school chapter of Students Helping Other People arranged tohave a student run through the halls in a toga one morning before school. The message he later broadcast over the school sound system: "If you think that was stupid, don't drink and drive on prom night, because that's even more stupid."
The Howard SHOP chapter used attention-getters like the toga to get 684 students, 59.5 percent of the student body, to sign "prom promise" pledges. The pledges not to drink and drive on prom night, sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, are circulated to all students at participating schools, regardless of whetherthey plan to attend the prom.
"We all had fun with it, but it wasa good experience and it made people think," said junior Shana Lourie, 17, vice president of the school SHOP chapter and organizer of the"prom promise." Howard High signed up the highest percentage of students in county schools in its population division, beating out Hammond and Glenelg High Schools.
Massaquoi expects 500 to 550 juniors and seniors to attend the Howard High prom, which will be May 23 at the Spear Center in Columbia's Town Center.
Glenelg High's SHOP chapter signed up 503 students, 52.5 percent of the student body, for "prom promise" pledges, but chapter adviser Mary McCormick would like tosee the emphasis changed.
She endorses promising not to drink anddrive on prom night, McCormick said, "but these students need to be told, 'Don't drink. You're young, your bodies are growing, you don't need to drink.' "
Glenelg High students will also have an assemblyprogram featuring reminders about the dangers of drinking and driving before their prom night, May 8. The prom will be at Martin's West.
Mount Hebron High students had a chance to try out a drunken driving simulator in the school parking lot last week. The simulator is a car equipped with a computer that alters steering and braking as if the driver were drunk. The idea is to illustrate the effects of alcohol on ability to drive.
The school chose not to participate in "prom promise." "The kind of things they were offering were things we felt we could do ourselves," said Amy Barnes, junior class sponsor.
The Hebron prom will be Saturday at Turf Valley Country Club. Barnes expects about 450 students to attend.
Wilde Lake High did not participate in "prom promise" because of a mix-up, said junior class sponsor Linda Keller.
Her co-sponsor, teacher Robert Nykyforchyn, said he prefers a continuing emphasis on keeping students free of drugs and alcohol, not just for the prom but for "other high-risk activities,such as graduation and senior week in Ocean City."
The Wilde Lakeprom will be May 9 at the Baltimore Marriott. Nykyforchyn said he would have preferred a location closer to Columbia, but the choices locally were limited and expensive.