Experts Offer Tips For A Safe High School Prom Season


It’s considered one of the high points of a young person’s life.

But every year, high school prom season brings reports of bad decisions leading to tragedies.

One way that kids get alcohol is by getting a middle man to buy it for them.

They approach a random grown-up outside a store and make them an offer.

“They hand them a twenty or more and say, ‘Hey, go get me a 12-pack,’ ” explained Jeff Gazdik, St. Clairsville resource officer and police officer. “A lot of times, we find they don’t even know who these people are. They don’t even know their names. And a lot of times, people over 21 will do it to make an easy 10. 15, 20 bucks.”

Some parents will host a party in the misguided belief that it’s a safe alternative.

“You have no idea what you could lose,” said Gazdik. “You work hard for everything you have. And a very simple after prom party at your house that you think is harmless could turn into disaster really fast,”

Teacher Melanie Haswell is the coordinator for Shadyside’s prom, and she has a passion for safety.

“I have two older boys and one younger daughter who is actually attending the prom at Shadyside,” she noted. “And I do take it very seriously.”

She says there’s no such thing as a “safe” party at someone’s home involving alcohol.

“We don’t need adults that we should be looking up to and role modeling after, to hold these events,” she said.

Shadyside uses a breathalyzer on every kid entering the prom and the after-prom.

And once you’re there, you stay there.

She also has a stern message for grocers and business owners.

“Please, please, please don’t serve alcohol to young people,” Haswell said. “The seller will obviously get in trouble too.”

Resource Officer Jeff Gazdik has seen tragedy come from the night that is supposed to be the happiest, most memorable time of a young person’s life.

“A lot of these kids will be going off to college very soon,” Gazdik noted. “They won’t see their classmates for a long time. Maybe they won’t see them until their first class reunion. So have fun, enjoy it. You can have a lot of fun without alcohol being present.”

Ohio State Highway Patrol officials say anyone involved in providing alcohol to people under 21 can be arrested and charged.

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