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Century HS imposes dance contract ahead of homecoming

In the midst of football players practicing plays and streamers being glued to floats in preparation for the parade, Century High School students are asking for their parents' signatures on a newly mandated dance contract to attend the upcoming homecoming dance.

Century parents received an email Oct. 9 from school's principal, Troy Barnes, about a dance contract to eliminate sexually suggestive or inappropriate dancing among students at school sponsored events.

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Before students can purchase tickets to the homecoming dance, scheduled for Saturday, students must return the dance contract signed by themselves and their parents.

The contract, according to Barnes, is a proactive measure to prevent inappropriate dancing, which has become an issue at several Carroll County high schools in recent years.

"Front-to-back dancing with young women bending over putting their hands on the floor or on their knees, we think is unacceptable," Barnes said.

When Barnes came on board as principal this school year, he said he spent time talking to parents and students about the school's culture. Style of dancing was a major concern.

Before handing out the contracts, Barnes met with Century juniors and seniors to discuss appropriate dancing, which he said he tried to address as specifically as possible.

"The last thing I want is an adversarial relationship with students," Barnes said. "We are not looking to be adversarial, but we have an obligation to maintain the standard that is in line with the community standard."

For Barnes, that means front-to-back dancing is OK, but female students should not be bending over more than 45 degrees or have their hands on their knees or grinding on her date.

But Barnes does not want to single out the female students. He said if male students are dancing in a sexually suggestive way, they will also be disciplined.

"I don't see a lot of Michael Jackson-style crotch grabbing anymore — it doesn't seem to be en vogue — but if a male student is dancing sexually suggestive it will apply for them too," he said.

Dance standards in Carroll County Public Schools, however, are not new.

Several years ago, several high school principals met with the Student Government Association to address concerns over "crude" dancing behavior by some students, said Dana Falls, director of student services.

The inappropriate dancing included students simulating oral sex at school-sponsored events, he said.

"It's the MTV-world we live in," Falls said. "It's not appropriate behavior."

According to Falls, attending a school dance is a privilege, not a right, of students. Students need to participate in "good, wholesome fun" or they are not invited to attend, he said.

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Many high schools put together dance guidelines last year to determine what is and what is not considered appropriate dancing, said Thomas Hill, director of high schools.

Society typically dictates what is appropriate dancing and some music performers dance sensationally to market products and sell things, Hill said, and students are copying those dances.

"We want the dances to be positive events for kids and ensure everyone is on the same page," Hill said.

The guidelines are imposed differently at each school. Some schools simply pass out dancing guidelines, others use a bracelet system during the dance and others use a verbal warning system, Hill said.

At most schools, including Century this year, students receive a warning for inappropriate dancing, Hill said, and at a second violation, the student will be asked to leave the dance. Barnes said students who commit a second violation and are asked to leave cannot get a refund for their dance ticket.

A student could eventually be barred from all school dances if the behavior continues.

"If [the student] becomes disrespectful and argumentative, then there will be more consequences and other jeopardies like not being able to attend prom," Hill said.

Hill does not expect inappropriate dancing to be a huge issue at the homecoming dance, but does anticipate problems from a few students.

According to Hill, the dance guidelines have also been imposed to bring awareness to parents.

"I don't believe most of my parents know or have seen what some of the students are engaging in," Hill said.

Some students are not happy with the new dance guidelines.

According to Barnes, some students have expressed that they will not attend the school dance. He said that it is the prerogative of those students if they choose not to attend because of the standards.

Reach staff writer Krishana Davis at 410-857-7862 or krishana.davis@carrollcountytimes.com.

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