Mom leads drive for alcohol-free graduation parties

Angie Diehlmann doesn't want to read about any fatal accidents the day after her son graduates from Westminster High School June 18.

"On graduation night, when the kids are on a natural high anyway, we want to give them a place to come, a sanctuary, without drugs or alcohol," Mrs. Diehlmann told the Carroll County school board last week.


She is spearheading a plan for an all-night graduation blow-out at the Four Seasons athletic complex in Hampstead. Grads will check in, but they can't check out until morning.

The plan will work only if the graduates attend, of course. Mrs. Diehlmann said she thinks they will, even if it takes a year or two to establish participation.


Mrs. Diehlmann and her family moved to Pleasant Valley just over a year ago from Charles County, where she started a similar all-night graduation party in 1986. Participation went from 45 percent the first year to 92 percent by last year, Mrs. Diehlmann said. A year after Charles County started it, Calvert County adopted the idea, she said.

This is the perfect year to start the parties in Carroll, she said, and not just because she happened to move here with the idea.

For one thing, the Board of Education voted this year to stop allowing seniors to leave school and graduate one to two weeks before the underclassmen.

"I think [the party] is a way for Carroll County to give back something to the seniors," Mrs. Diehlmann said. In the past, graduates often took off for Ocean City the night they graduated. But because the summer rates will have taken effect this year by the time they graduate, students would have to pay a lot more for their hotel rooms, Mrs. Diehlmann said.

She thinks the inexpensive party will be all the more attractive, since she hopes to offset the cost with donations from businesses for food and door prizes.

The sports complex has sponsored all-night, drug- and alcohol-free parties for youth in the past. Mrs. Diehlmann said she wants the graduation party to be a new tradition, and become "the thing to do."

Festivities would start Friday, June 18, for Westminster High graduates. Francis Scott Key and South Carroll high schools would have a combined party Saturday night after their respective commencement ceremonies that day. Liberty and North Carroll high schools would have a combined party after they graduate on Sunday.

Mrs. Mrs. Diehlmann asked the Board of Education at its monthly meeting to support the plan and help her find sponsors without encroaching on existing post-prom parties for which parents solicit donations.


"Since I'm new to the county, I need help from you to guide me to where I can get support," she said.

But Mrs. Diehlmann seems to be doing quite well at spreading the word, said Joanne Hayes, Drug-Free Schools coordinator for the Board of Education. She already is working with Mrs. Diehlmann.

"This is a dynamo of a woman," she said of Mrs. Diehlmann. "She's already talked to half the county about this."