Howard County police are teaming up with the county Parent Teacher Association Council to remind teens attending proms to be safe after the big events.
The Police Department has sent letters to hotels and motels in Howard County reminding them to strictly enforce the establishments' policies allowing no one under age 21 to rent a room. They are also asking hotel employees to call police if adults try to rent rooms for minors.
One reason for the precaution is a January 2001 incident in which a gathering of teenagers at a hotel resulted in one student's death and injury of another. Long Reach High School senior Andre D. Corinaldi, 18, was shot in the head and killed and another teen, Lauren Nicole Perkins, who was 17 years old at the time, was seriously injured at a surprise 18th birthday party that was held in adjoining rooms at a Columbia that involved underage drinking.
"The Police Department and the PTA share a common goal this time of year, and that's keeping high school students safe," said Sherry Llewellyn, spokeswoman for the department. "During prom and graduation season, we can see a tragic situation that often involves alcohol and risky behavior. We've partnered to deliver this message to remind teens and parents of the safety and legal consequences of underage drinking and to remind promgoers that the PTA offers an alternative to their after-prom party."
All 12 public high schools have PTSA-sponsored after-prom celebrations. The parties include music, food, activities and door prizes. Last year, more than 3,600 teens attended the after-prom events, according to the Parent Teacher Association.
Wilde Lake High School's after-prom party, for example, will be at Dave & Buster's at Arundel Mills mall, said Robin Procida, co-chair of the committee that organized the party.
After the party, which ends at 4:30 a.m., buses will take students back to the school, where their parents can pick them up. Procida said she and the other co-chair, Cindy Bublitz, have been fundraising for the event, which will cost about $15,000. The goal is to discourage students from having their own parties.
"It's very expensive, but there's no price for a life," Procida said. "If we can make sure all the kids are safe, it's well worth it.
"It's one of the biggest risk nights of a teenager's life, so we wanted to do everything we could to keep them safe in a drug-free environment."
This is the second year that all of the schools will sponsor post-prom events, said Mary Ellen Creasy, "Project Safe After-Prom" committee chairwoman for the PTA Council. She said that four years ago, only a handful of schools held events.
"The reason we do it is to keep the kids safe, ultimately," Creasy said. "Prevention information goes out throughout the year. We know that most juniors and seniors are going to celebrate in one way or another, whether it's a safe alternative or not."
Liberty Mutual, the auto insurance company, provided a wrecked car to display at each public high school the week before the proms to remind students not to drink and drive, according to the Police Department.
Of the 15 fatal crashes in the county last year, six were alcohol-related, according to police. In 2006, 19 collisions resulted in 22 deaths. Half of those were alcohol-related, and six of the involved drivers were younger than 21.
Police are also reminding parents and teens that possessing fake identification, lying about age to buy alcohol and possessing alcohol underage all carry $500 fines and a required court appearance. Driving under the influence and drinking while driving also carry $500 fines. A DUI conviction means losing a license for 60 days or more. Adults can also be charged and fined for providing alcohol to anyone younger than 21.
Here are the dates and locations of Howard County public school proms:
Atholton: May 10, Marriott Camden Yards
Centennial: Tomorrow, Scottish Rite Masonic Temple
Hammond: Tomorrow, Valley Mansion, Cockeysville
Howard: May 9, Turf Valley
Long Reach: May 16, Martin's West
Marriotts Ridge: May 16, Hyatt Regency, Baltimore
Mount Hebron: Completed
Oakland Mills: Tomorrow, National Aquarium
Reservoir: May 17, M&T; Bank Stadium
River Hill: May 16, Radisson Plaza Hotel, Baltimore
Wilde Lake: May 16, Maryland Science Center