St. Charles Herald-Guide

Students plan Promapalooza to combat underage drinking

Kyle Barnett - December 10, 2012

Students at Hahnville and Destrehan high schools are proposing to give their peers an alternative to booze-filled after-prom activities this year by offering a "Promapalooza."

Christian Guerra and Meghan Johnson, seniors at Destrehan High School, and Jacques Petit and Alissa Cavaretta, seniors at Hahnville High School, have been working on the proposal of an after-prom party since the beginning of the year.

The parties will take place in the gyms of each school following prom and will provide games, food and prizes for attendees.

Petit said the after-party is an attempt to curb underage drinking.

"We were all in high school so we all know what happens, or happened, after prom so this is providing a safe alternative to that in order to keep the streets of St. Charles Parish more safe as well as just the environment as a whole for the kids who are attending prom," Petit said.

However, Guerra said the aim of the party is about more than just keeping students safe after prom, but also about providing an enjoyable activity for everyone.

"It gives them a place to go after prom because usually they would go party or go home. So whichever way they would choose we will give them an alternative," Guerra said. "They would have more fun than if they were going to go home and they would be safer than if they were going to go out and party."

Guerra said the drawing of prizes at Promapalooza will be designed to keep students in attendance.

"The bigger prizes are given the longer you stay," Guerra said.

Petit said he thinks the strategy will work to keep kids from going out and possibly getting into trouble elsewhere.

"Thatís a large incentive for kids to stay, especially if they want to win something," Petit said. "They are going to college and have the option to win a TV. I mean, who doesnít want a new TV in their dorm?"

The students said they have already been promised donations of food and prizes for the parties and that they are meeting with interested parents and students to finalize the specifics.

"We have had three meetings and at each of the meetings we have had an increase in attendance, both adult-wise and student-wise. So the feedback has been positive. We just havenít really gotten the awareness out to the general student population yet," Petit said. "As we have more meetings we are going to try to get more people to attend to get more information about what they would like there. We are also conducting a survey to see what they would like, but overall it has been pretty positive."

Petit said their goal this year is to introduce the event with the hope it will become more popular as time goes on.

"My expectations arenít too high for the attendance, but my expectations are high for the future," Petit said. "I see this more as setting a legacy. Even if there arenít 99 percent of the kids going to each high school attending this, it is setting a precedent where each year I would hope that we progress more and more."

Cavaretta said she researched attendance issues and found that when St. Charles Catholic High School started an after-prom party attendance was sparse at first, but has risen throughout the years.

"They started out seven years ago with 20 kids at their after-prom party and they have increased to around 97 percent participation rate, but they went through a rough patch to get there," Cavaretta said.

District 7 School Board Member Arthur Aucoin welcomed the plan for personal as well as professional reasons.

"I am the parent of a senior daughter and I think this is a great idea," Aucoin said.

District 2 Board Member Melinda Bernard applauded the students for their forward thinking.

"I am very proud of you all for starting something with the idea of an opportunity to grow into even something bigger," Bernard said. "I think your way of looking at it as a development is fantastic."

Destrehanís Promapalooza is scheduled for April 6 and Hahnvilleís is scheduled for May 4.

Students plan Promapalooza to combat underage drinking