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Chuck's column: Prom is a big deal at RHS

It's Prom weekend here. Probably the second most popular social event of the high school year, with Homecoming taking first place. It's truly an event around here and I do mean an event.

I remember my own Proms. Nothing like around here. We actually had it in the gym. First, there were pre-Prom parties at a lot of homes. Then, we would travel to the school for the dance. At about 10:30, we held Grand March. Prom was the responsibility of the junior class. Thus, they built everything that went into the decorations for that evening. Seniors didn't lift a finger.

Parents, relatives and friends rolled in to watch the Grand March from the bleachers in the balcony of our gym. If I remember correctly, the dance ended around midnight or so and then everyone went to a ritzy restaurant just outside of town and we all ate together. We were served family style. It really was a lot of fun. There's something to be said about having the entire group of attendees sitting in the same room for dinner. Fond memories, for sure.

Around here, it's a little different. I remember being shocked when I first arrived here 31 years ago. This small town kid had no clue it was such a big deal here. We held it downtown in St. Paul at the First Tr-ust Cen-ter. This pl-ace had a gr-and ballroom area for the Gr-and March and the dance. The Grand March still starts at 5:30 and ends around 7. The kids come down two glass escalators. Then they are introduced as they cross the bridge we provide them. From there, they walk to the back of the visiting crowd, grab a Prom memory bag and head out for dinner at the place of their choosing.

Students return beginning around 8 or a tad after and dance until midnight.

I always enjoy Prom. There's a ton of adults there, along with a few policemen to make sure everyone is safe. In all the years I've done this, and once again, that would be 31, there has never been an incident. And it's not like we turn our heads to situations. The kids either know better and know nothing will be tolerated or they simply just know better.

Every other year, on the Thursday before Prom, we do a mock car crash simulation for 11th and 12th graders outside in the parking lot while simultaneously providing an impactful experience related to the same theme for our ninth and 10th graders in the main gym. This is always very powerful, and I find myself not wanting to see it because of its intensity. Cars that have been in a drunk-driving accident are brought in and placed in such a way as to simulate the scene of an accident. Then, students and community members play the roles of students who have been drinking, and a parent with a child who was thrown from the car when hit by the drunk driver. The county police are part of this as are the Rosemount police. The Flight For Life helicopter actually lands with ambulances and fire trucks screaming down our hill into the parking lot. Finally, a hearse drives in to transport those who were dead on the scene. Take my word for it, it's powerful, and I believe effective. It's meant to make the kids think. I believe it does just that.

Prom in a nutshell. Not like when we were kids, eh? Yet, I know the kids still have fun, and they add one more high school memory for future enjoyment.

Three more columns before summer vacation. What to say. What to say.