Bad breath may keepstudents from prom

GRANT, Neb. (AP) — Before heading to the dance floor, 17-year-old Jayme Pankonin secured the spray of baby’s breath in her hair, straightened her deep purple dress, then pursed her lips around a straw and blew.
“Very good,” said Grant School’s Superintendent Jon Burkey as he read her negative Breathalyzer results Saturday night. “You look wonderful. Welcome to the prom.”
Jayme, a junior, was among the 120 students, faculty members and chaperones that took the alcohol test required to attend Saturday night’s junior-senior prom.
That Breathalyzer moment is becoming as common as the pinning of corsages and the knotting of bow ties for prom-goers as schools nationwide attempt to stop underage drinking on prom night.
In this western Nebraska town of 1,239, the “blow or go” policy is now in its fourth year. Although Grant High School tests every person who enters the prom, most other schools test only those students who appear to have been drinking.
In Grant, the breath tests began after a particularly raucous prom in 1992, when apparently intoxicated students swallowed live goldfish used in table centerpieces, Burkey said.
Most of the Grant students took the test in stride, even those who flunked the test at first breath. All eventually passed the test.
“I think it’s a good idea. Basically, if you plan on drinking, you know you shouldn’t try and come to prom,” said junior Mandy Kamla, whose mouthwash caused a positive test. After 10 minutes, she was retested, the results were negative, and Mandy was allowed into the prom.
But those students who are finding themselves on the other end of the blood-alcohol straw for the first time have not been so cooperative. Students at one Arlington, Texas, high school arranged an “alternative prom” to protest the school district’s new breath test. About 200 students attended the second prom — almost half the entire class of Lamar High School, officials said.
“I think it was important for us to take a stand because we felt like this was a violation of our civil rights and violation of our trust,” said Lamar High School student Jeff Hurst, who helped to organize the event.