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October 16, 2005
Brother Hoagland Takes A Stand

Brother Kenneth Hoagland, the Marianist monk who serves as principal of the Catholic Kellenberg Memorial High School, has decided to cancel this year's prom rather than give passive acceptance to the debauchery that attends the dance of late. He defied parents who appeared more interested in enabling their children's exploration of sex, booze, and drugs than in teaching them how to conduct themselves ethically:

Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland had heard all the stories about prom-night debauchery at his Long Island high school:

Students putting down $10,000 to rent a party house in the Hamptons.

Pre-prom cocktail parties followed by a trip to the dance in a liquor-loaded limo.

Fathers chartering a boat for their children's late-night "booze cruise."

Enough was enough, Hoagland said. So the principal of Kellenberg Memorial High School canceled the spring prom in a 2,000-word letter to parents this fall.

"It is not primarily the sex/booze/drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be; it is rather the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity's sake -- in a word, financial decadence," Hoagland said, fed up with what he called the "bacchanalian aspects."

The students have protested the decision, calling it unfair and judgmental, but the cancellation came after an initial warning that Hoagland meant business. After he found out about the $20K rental in the Hamptons, he forced the seniors who made the arrangements to cancel the party house in order for the prom to stay on the schedule. Once he confirmed that the rental was canceled, he put the prom on the schedule.

So what happened?

The parents decided to rent the Hamptons party house for the seniors instead.

Does anyone remember when parents used to stand up to their children and insist on responsible behavior? I went to two proms, in 1979 and 1980. I spent around $50 for a tuxedo rental, drove my parent's car on both occasions, bought dinner for about the same price as the tux, and paid about $20 for the tickets to the dance. We went to elegant venues for these dances: the Golden Sails Restaurant in Belmont Shore and the Airporter in Newport Beach. After both, we went to the houses of friends for the rest of the night.

Total cost: somewhere south of $500 for two proms. Parents willing to let their kids get juiced up and endorse an evening of sexually exploiting each other: zero.

Hoagland remembers that Catholic high schools exist to endorse the moral teachings of the Church, and that a night of Golden Calf-like bacchanalia seems a bit out of place, even if the average student's allowance exceeds my monthly salary. Brother Hoagland deserves credit for insisting on sticking to those moral standards, even when the parents seem to think that surrender is their only option.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 16, 2005 9:33 PM

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