Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Big dates shouldn't cost kids big bucks

I admit to being a slow-texting, MySpace-ignorant, Juicy Couture-clueless adult when it comes to the current high school generation, no matter how hard the teenagers in my life try to educate me.

So tell me this:

When did the high school set become fat cats scarfing salmon puffs at a ballroom buffet? When did it become normal for a kid to emerge from a stretch Hummer wearing a Vera Wang gown and head off to some schmancy restaurant?

All before the homecoming dance even starts?

Okay, I exaggerate. (I find this an effective way to hold a teenager's attention, like making loud noises and jumping up and down.) For the majority of kids, it's probably not quite that night-on-the-town-with-my-BFF-Paris-Hilton.

Still, besides dress/shoes/hair/mani-pedi, you'll need homecoming tickets and, at a lot of schools, transportation to a fancy hall or hotel. And it's no news to anyone that we are in an economic "downturn," as we have taken to calling our current situation, as if this were merely an easily correctable wrong turn rather than what feels like a terrifying downward spiral.

"Money is an issue for our kids," says Jeff Boldt, principal at Tampa's Chamberlain High, where 59 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. "I can't imagine there aren't some kids that can't attend a homecoming dance that would like to."

Stop. Stop the madness.

A ray of sensibility emerges from the Hillsborough County School Board. (Yes, I did so write that.)

Board member April Griffin, who has two boys in high school, is talking back-to-basics, with that crucial element of getting student leaders and their ideas involved.

Thoughts? Have homecoming at school if possible. Use the school system's buying muscle to negotiate deals at a few large venues, then let individual schools pick from those. (It should be noted that some schools already are working on solutions to cut ticket costs.)

Get her going and Griffin even muses on making yearbooks less pricey and encouraging class ring companies to offer more affordable options for kids who don't have hundreds to spend. (Did I mention she has two boys in high school?)

The mind reels with possibility.

A collection of donated dresses for girls to peruse, a la the Belle of the Ball Project in Pinellas. Parents who co-host group dinners at home beforehand instead of shelling out bucks for Outback Steakhouse or Bonefish Grill or better.

The million-dollar question: Will kids buy into it?

Consider this: At Brandon High, homecoming happens at the school. Granted, their campus is blessed with the space for this, but they were also smart. They made it about the kids.

Students spend six months working on homecoming. They use glitter and paper and glue. They build waterfalls and volcanos. (This year's theme: Cirque de Soleil.)

And they actually, don't tell them this part, learn. They learn about business and planning and leadership. They get a grade.

Buy in? "Our students would riot if we moved it off campus," says Ashley Buchanan, the very enthusiastic-sounding world history teacher and student government sponsor.

Next stop: Prom. Hey, an old person can dream, can't she?

Big dates shouldn't cost kids big bucks 10/17/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 2:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

    President Donald Trump embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the East Room of the White House during an announcement Wednesday that Foxconn is going to build a plant in Wisconsin.
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Conservatives come to Sessions' defense amid Trump attacks

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and influential conservatives rallied around Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as President Donald Trump kept up his public pelting of the nation's top law enforcement officer and left his future in doubt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  5. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, it better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher it can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]