Severna Park prom prep is heavy on safety plans


May 25, 2000|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SEVERNA PARK HIGH School seniors attending their prom tomorrow night at the BWI Marriott should feel as secure as they would stretched out on the family room sofa, watching "Dawson's Creek."

At least that's the goal of faculty, parents and students who have been working for months to produce a safe and memorable senior prom for the nearly 400 members of Severna Park's Class of 2000.

A major part of that effort is the Prom Promise assembly held each year to encourage seniors to accept responsibility for driving safely on a night that presents so many new ways to make wrong choices.

On May 10, seniors heard about the reality of drinking and driving or driving carelessly from two sets of parents whose teen-age daughters died in car accidents. They also heard from a young man who was behind the wheel when an accident took the life of a friend riding with him.

After the assembly, Capt. Robert Schappert and firefighters from Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company demonstrated the rescue of people trapped in a simulated auto accident.

"Seniors sign a commitment, a prom promise not to drink and drive," SPHS Principal Mary Gable said. A poster in the school foyer advertising the Prom Promise has become a focal point for young people as they cover it with their signatures.

Because of final exams, which began Tuesday and end today, and the demands of studying and capping off 12 years of schooling, seniors have tried to remain focused, but the prom is one event in a teen's life too important for most to ignore.

"School rules are in effect at any outside event," said Class of 2000 faculty sponsor Edith Magruder, a special education teacher. "That means no alcohol, no smoking, and the seniors must sign in to the prom by 7:15 p.m."

Students are expected to stay at the prom. "If they leave, they don't return," Magruder said.

Concern for students' safety is not limited to the prom. It extends to the annual prom breakfast afterward at the Severna Park Elks Lodge. The Elks donate use of the large party room in the lodge on Truck House Road, and the school makes a donation in appreciation for providing a space for the event - which seems to be becoming as popular as the prom.

"Parents have been working on it diligently since February," Magruder said.

Arlene Hopp heads a committee of about 100 parents that planned the event. To make the breakfast more exciting, Carol Kriewald, an art teacher at Shipley's Choice Elementary School and mother of a Severna Park senior, heads a committee that will transform the party room into a scene from "Arabian Nights."

The decorations committee has cut and pasted and painted every Thursday night for three months to create a setting their seniors will never forget.

"We expect somewhere between 500 and 600 young people," Hopp says.

Jane Burke and her food committee have covered all the basic teen-age food groups: pizza, doughnuts, bagels and chicken wings. The Elks provide the sodas.

Safeway is assisting with food costs and delivering the food to the lodge. It doesn't hurt that Safeway Corporate Vice President Mike Bessire is the father of a Severna Park senior.

Kitchen duty begins at 9 a.m. tomorrow, when the food committee arrives to cut, dice and slice. Cooks will return at 10 p.m. to work in three-hour shifts until 3 a.m.

If the food were not enticement enough, door prizes, including a new bike, televisions, a compact disc player and lots of movie tickets, will be awarded. A disc jockey and live music will be provided for dancing.

Again with safety in mind, prom-goers traveling by limousine to the dance can park in the Elks Lodge lot at 5 p.m. A team of fathers, with two police officers provided by the county, will guard the parking lot. Limo drivers will drop off their customers at the breakfast.

The Anne Arundel County Council of PTAs has donated $550 for the safety-oriented breakfast.

Principal Gable hopes the emphasis on safety doesn't end with the prom.

"The important thing is that the promise extends beyond the prom," she said. "I don't want just a safe prom season. I want students to have wonderfully safe nights every night, every weekend."

A `nugget' of creativity

Not everyone will be shuttled around in limos for the Severna Park prom and breakfast.

Best-friend seniors Mollie Andrew and Britt Petzold, double-dating, are planning an arrival at the BWI Marriott in a one-of-a-kind chariot.

They are decorating the luggage rack on Mollie's 1986 Volvo, affectionately known as the "golden nugget," with white Christmas lights, and hanging a small reflecting ball inside.

"While we've been studying and taking exams," says Mollie, who is president of SPHS's National Honor Society chapter, "we've been busy making prom arrangements."

Mollie will be accompanied by Benjamin Wolff, a senior at Key School in Annapolis. Britt will be going with John Shafran, valedictorian of his senior class at New Britain High School in Connecticut.

An aspiring writer and actress, Britt is no stranger to scene-stealing entrances. As the wicked witch in SPHS's fall production of "The Wizard of Oz," she stole the show with her green makeup and evil antics.

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