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Wicked Excesses Cost Students Their Prom

It's a little early to be thinking about high-school proms, which are usually springtime events. Prom is short for promenade -- in this case, a formal graduation dance, accompanied by dinners, speeches, and other events.

And it's those other events that prompted the principal of a Catholic school -- Kellenberg Memorial High School -- on New York's Long Island to cancel next spring's prom altogether.

Kenneth Hoagland was disturbed by what he called the bacchanalian aspects of prom-night festivities -- including drinking binges, sex parties at motels, and tragic highway crashes. A prom is one thing, Mr. Hoagland wrote parents. Orgies are quite another.

And Mr. Hoagland is also troubled by a different kind of excess.

Come prom night, some parents in Kellenberg's upscale neighborhood did not just indulge their kids by renting limousines for the dance, or picking up the cost of boys' fancy tuxedos and girls' formal gowns. They also paid for parties befitting Hollywood glitterati, including $10,000 booze cruises on chartered boats.

Financial decadence, Mr. Hoagland called it. Enough!

Predictably, some kids and parents back the principal, while others say he should not rob students of what one father calls the senior experience. Besides, say critics, it's none of the school's business what goes on after the dance. So there's already talk of a private prom to replace the traditional event.

Feelings are still too raw to know if the cancellation of prom night will hold. Long Island florists, limo services, liquor stores, and charter-boat companies are following developments closely.