Bolton’s Bias: After prom runs long and falls short

Opinion Editor Will Bolton discusses his opinion with anyone who will listen, in person. This column gives him a place to do it where people can escape from his tirades on everything from school programs to American politics by just putting the article down—although given a chance they probably won’t want to.


The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

If I may, I am going to make a JC addition to that saying: the road to hell (and car accidents) is paved with good intentions. My alteration comes as a result of JC’s long standing After Prom party rules but to understand it, requires a quick review of JC’s Prom night.

After the actual dance part of Prom, the parents association coordinates a mandatory After Prom for all of the seniors and their dates. This year they will be going to Dave and Busters until 3 a.m. That means that the students will not return to JC until 4.

Every year, seniors and their dates describe the night of Prom as an awesome experience, if only they hadn’t been miserably tired for most of it. The truth is that by midnight, most people are tired. That isn’t to say that they don’t have fun at Dave and Busters, for a little while. Although Dave and Busters is always described as fun, even true night owls can’t last until 4 a.m., and most people say after an hour the appeal wears off.

Prom is supposed to be a night we never forget, so why are we being forced to spend a large part of it wishing we were home in bed? Surprisingly, that question is not as rhetorical as it seems. The answer is that the parent association is rightfully concerned with the poor decisions students might make at an un-chaperoned after party. There is, according to common sense and too many studies to cite here, a devastating pattern of drunk driving accidents and alcohol poisoning at prom after parties across the nation.   

And this is where the after party comes in. In an obvious and noble effort to ensure this trend does not reach JC, the parent association is sure to keep students chaperoned on prom night until 4 a.m. when they return to JC and are allowed to drive home. The thinking is that students who are up until 4 a.m. are likely to be too tired to go to someone’s house and have an after party of a different sort.

This is actually incredibly sound logic, until you realize that if students are too tired to party, they are also probably too tired to drive. Drunk driving is an incredibly dangerous, irresponsible, and frankly stupid thing to do. Almost as irresponsible as having an entire class of seniors drive home after a night of dancing at 4 a.m.

The truly scary part about this: I’m not exaggerating. Driving while drowsy is scientifically proven to be as bad as driving while under the influence of alcohol. According to the Henry Ford Health System Sleep Disorder System, a department dedicated to researching and treating sleep disorders, 4 hours of sleep loss can be equivalent to drinking a six pack, and a whole night of sleep loss is equivalent to driving with a BAC of .19.

A .19 BAC is more than twice the legal limit to drive and drowsy driving translates to 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013 alone, according to the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration .

Now I am, of course, not suggesting that the parent association is involved in some plot to harm students. I think it is fair to chalk this problem up to a good intention which has not lived up to its expectation.

The good news is that there is an easy remedy. Start the dance an hour earlier or cut an hour of it (most people say that it is too long to really dance the whole time), and bus us back to JC after two hours at Dave and Busters. Getting back at 1:30 or 2 a.m. would be a godsend to tired students and keep them safer in the long run, even if some might still have the energy for an after after party.

At this point, planning on kids driving home at 4 a.m. is not only unfair to them, but downright dangerous. This system needs some serious corrections because if JC does not deal with the problems, an actual road might end up paved with car parts.

Will Bolton is the Perspectives Editor for The Patriot and