When Osseo High School outlawed grinding at prom, many students were so angry they jumped ship, literally. About 255 students plan on skipping the school’s May 15 prom to attend a party on a boat where they won’t be kicked out for dancing front-to-back.
A few weeks ago, students at Osseo received a new contract for the prom dress code and dancing policy. Most students were fine with the rules besides the one outlawing grinding. This is how most high school students have been dancing for years and it is an acceptable way to dance in teen’s eyes. The new dress code said dress lengths, including slits, could go no higher than four inches above the knee.
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Ronnie King, an assistant principal at Osseo, said about 95 percent of the kids at the past two school dances have danced in way that violates the new dance policy.
The majority of students feel the school has a right to make rules about how people dress and dance, but felt an all-out ban on grinding is over the top.
“That’s how we dance. It’s not that bad as long as you don’t get out of hand with it,” said Osseo senior Nate Eversman.
Mrs. Goetz, one of the teachers in charge of this year’s prom, said she believes dancing has become too sexual and explicit over the years. Grinding has been tolerated for too long and should have been addressed earlier, she said, and the school needed to “make an environment where everyone was comfortable attending.”
Goetz said students should dance in a way that wouldn’t make them feel uncomfortable in front of your parents.
A couple students said the dancing got pretty raunchy at Snodaze – the school’s winter dance. It was even rumored that a couple might’ve had sex on the dance floor, but that’s not confirmed.
King said the stricter enforcement of the dance policy at prom is not related to those rumors.
This year instead of going to prom, 255 students are going to have their own prom on a boat. They are renting a boat through Afton Hudson Cruise Lines that has a capacity of 350 people. Although at least 100 more people would’ve liked to join the alternative prom, people organizing the event didn’t want it to be overcrowded and said it was primarily for seniors.
ThreeSixty reporters from St. Paul Central High School and Saint Paul Academy report there are no rules about dancing at their schools. “Central has always had a good tradition in showing themselves as ladies and gentlemen. It is something that Central is very proud of,” reports YungJen Vang following an interview with Central’s prom teacher advisor, Tracy Olson.
At Saint Paul Academy, there is also no dance policy, reports Leah Sorensen. “SPA doesn’t have rules about dancing sent out with prom invitations, and John Wensman, adviser to the Junior Class Leadership Council, which plans prom, says that there is rarely need for adult intersession due to student’s dancing inappropriately because the dress code tends to lead to appropriate behavior,” Sorensen said.
Camille Howerton, a senior and an organizer of the boat party, said she never planned on attending prom, much less hosting a party of 255 people boycotting it. Howerton originally invited about 20 of her best friends to take a dinner cruise instead of attending prom. They weren’t going to have dates either; they were just going to enjoy prom night by doing something different. “We never planned on going to prom,” she said. “I had no intentions of getting back at the school (by holding our own party).”
Once another alternative prom – planned at the JRA building in Maple Grove – fell through, more and more students wanted to join the boat cruise. As Camille said, “It quickly went from 20 people to 40, 40 to 80, and eventually 80 to 250 people.”
Many students were also upset that the school didn’t just punish individuals for dancing inappropriately, and instead penalized the entire school. Students believe only a few people crossed the line at previous dances compared to King’s estimate of 95 percent of the students.
“They never gave us an explanation for the new rules,” senior John Bailey said.
As the popularity of the alternate boat party increased, so did the awareness of it among teachers and administration of Osseo Senior High. But King said even though the student body will be split at this year’s prom, the school is not going to budge on its anti-grinding policy.
“We’re standing up for not advertising sex at our school events,” King said.
Goetz said that she isn’t personally offended by the students abandoning the school’s prom. While she said she hopes the students have a great night on the boat, she also has concerns. “I’m concerned about liability issues and I pray that nobody gets hurt,” she said.
Although the boat prom is new territory for students and parents, it seems well planned. There will be 10 parent chaperones on the boat and 15 people from the cruise company. The company has a strict drinking policy and will end the cruise if a single person drinks. Students also created their own contract that they’re requiring each student and a parent to sign to make students liable for their actions.
There will also be people checking bags and other belongings when students enter the boat.
“It’s going to be like a normal school dance only on a boat,” Howerton said.
Although many students at Osseo feel like they succeeded in creating their own prom, the tension between older and younger generations about grinding is sure to continue. Schools around the country are doing the same thing as Osseo High and banning grinding at school dances.
“We’re a different generation, so they think that stuff we like is inappropriate,” Eversman said.
King said for previous generations, the style of dancing was never so sexual.
Even so, senior Kelly Lynch said the dance’s rules violate her rights. “We should be able to dance how we want to,” she said.