Monday, October 17, 2005

Won't Anyone Think of the Children?

I'm sure this will be all over the blogosphere by now (I saw it in the Times yesterday), but it's a sad Monday at Kellenberg Memorial High School of Uniondale, New York today. Their principal has just cancelled the prom.

Yes, I know - it sounds like the plot of a lost John Hughes movie, or perhaps the straight-to-video sequel to Footloose. But it's true. The Times website requires registration, but there's a similar article at (of all places) The Duluth News-Tribune. But I guess it's not that surprising after all; teens in Duluth are united in mourning with the teens of Uniondale today. For when a prom dies anywhere, it's as if all proms die everywhere.

(The slightly different story I read, by-lined the Associated Press, is here, from Long Island's own Newsday.)

This picture shows some of the sad teens of Kellenberg, who will have to find other, less time-hallowed ways to get utterly drunk, have bad sex, and buy unsuitable formal wear this year. You can see the sadness in their eyes, the knowledge that they'll have to wait until Janet Roccocio's parents go out of town on their annual ski trip to Vail to have that big blow-out kegger that they're dreaming of. The caption claims that they're "propos[ing] a tamer event," and they may even look happy. But, friends, don't believe it; look at those sad, haunted eyes. All the teens of Kellenberg Memorial are dragging their feet this morning; all of their skies are dark and cloudy. And they may settle for a tamer event, but only if the only other option is to go prom-less.

Unlike a John Hughes movie, Kellenberg's principal - Brother Kenneth Hoagland - claims that he's not primarily worried about "the sex/booze/drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be." Oh, no. Brother Hoagland, who runs a private school that costs $6,025 a year, is worried about "the flaunting of affluence."

So, kids, here's how it is. Your parents are pretty well-off, you live in a good Long Island town, and you go to a pricey school. But once you start flaunting your affluence, that old debbil gonna get you. So, for now, you need to pretend that you're poor. You'll have plenty of time to break out the flashy cars and the Hamptons beach houses once you're safely into an expensive private college.

I'm not sure I believe Brother Hoagland, but it's an interesting turn of events that he has to deny that stopping Catholic teenagers from drinking, doing drugs and bonking each other is not his primary purpose. I certainly always thought that was the natural role for a principal, particularly one in charge of a parochial school. But we live and learn. Being obviously rich, I see, is worse than a one-night stand with a cheerleader, or smoking with the stoners down by the band-room door.

One last thought: who names a Catholic school "Kellenberg Memorial," anyway? Have we run out of saints? Why, when I was a boy, my friends went to good honest Catholic schools like Sacred Heart of Mary, DePaul, Our Lady of the Valley, and The Flayed Mortal Remains of Our Lord. I for one deplore this modern tendency to make an upstanding Catholic school sound like a hospital in central Ohio.

1 comment:

Lynn Kendall said...

My favorite Catholic high school name: Philadelphia's Father Judge.

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