Of all the dinners, dances and dates in high school, the prom often is the most memorable and important.
Understandably, problems associated with the prom can arise and emotions can run high. Our Friday edition included a mother's story about her 11th-grade daughter who isn't allowed to bring an eighth-grade date to the Fonda-Fultonville prom because of an unwritten school rule barring students in middle school from attending the high school prom.
While we understand her concern, we think the school's rules are reasonable.
The mother of the junior said she collected 162 signatures from the community in a petition urging the district to allow juniors to take eighth-graders to the prom. She noted that often, the age difference is only two years. Many eighth- graders are 14 years old and many juniors are 16, she said.
This situation highlights the importance of districts having clearly written prom policies so students and parents know all the parameters, including who can attend these events.
The Fonda-Fultonville school adviser packet says the district doesn't allow middle school students to attend high school dances or the reverse. The district does allow high school students from other districts as well as dates up to age 20 to attend the prom. Other school districts have similar guidelines.
High school and middle school have different environments, and the students' maturity levels aren't the same. For those reasons, social events, in general, should be separate.
All schools should establish a cutoff, and middle school seems reasonable. It's also important to have an age limit. For example, it may be inappropriate to allow a 21-year-old, who can buy alcohol legally, to be the date of a high school junior at the prom.