The tuxedo is rented. The corsage is ordered. The hotel room is reserved.
For students who can afford it, senior prom in Spokane may include an unchaperoned drinking party in a hotel or at a lake cabin.
Some parents condone the practice, actually booking the rooms themselves. They believe it makes their children less vulnerable to drunken driving accidents.
“We knew whose cabin it was. We knew the family. We knew when to expect them home the next day,” said the mother of a 1995 graduate, who asked for anonymity.
She said she has mixed feelings about the practice, adding “we were extremely lucky” there were no accidents.
“If they only knew they could have fun without it, but it’s handed down year after year. It’s what’s supposed to happen.”
The Hampton Inn won’t rent to anyone younger than 18, but parents can and do book rooms for their teenagers, said general manager Ralph Morgan.
“We explain that if there are problems they will be notified to pick up their children, and if that won’t work, we may call the police. They are told up front they will be responsible for any damage.”
At least one Spokane hotel wants no part of it.
“We’ve had problems in the past,” said Ridpath Hotel front-desk clerk Daphne Herrington. “If we have any clue they’re with a prom we do not let them check in.”
“High school kids feel it’s somehow mature to drink 16 bottles of beer and throw up in your friend’s car,” said Peggy Herbert, a Lewis and Clark High School teacher helping students plan the May 10 prom.
Herbert often overhears conversations about weekend parties in her Spanish classes. She said she is “flabbergasted” by tales of the post-prom hotel parties.
Herbert began teaching in 1969. She has seen the deadly consequences of rising alcohol use among teenagers. Once it was rare for her to grieve for a dead student. No more.
“In the last 15 years, we’ve probably lost one kid a year to drunken driving, drugs, suicide. Most of the mistakes kids make now are fatal.” , DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SEASON OF THE PROM Prom season begins tonight and doesn’t let up until June. Here’s a calendar of senior proms in Spokane County. Saturday: Freeman High School at Cavanaugh’s River Inn, Cheney High School at Fairchild Air Force Base and Medical Lake High School at the Davenport Hotel. May 3: Ferris High School at Crescent Court and Central Valley High School at the Davenport Hotel. May 4: East Valley High School at the Davenport Hotel, Riverside High School at Gonzaga University, Mead High School at Mukogawa Fort Wright and Gonzaga Prep at the Masonic Temple. May 10: Lewis and Clark High at the Masonic Temple and University High School at the Davenport Hotel. May 11: Shadle Park High at the Masonic Temple and West Valley High at the Davenport Hotel. May 25: Deer Park High at the Spokane Convention Center. May 31: Rogers High School at the Davenport Hotel. June 1: North Central High at the Davenport Hotel and Lakeside High School at Glover Mansion. June 4: St. George’s School, junior-senior prom cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene.