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House rules: LCS asks students to clean up dancing

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Pushing the edge of what is appropriate."

That's how Le Mars Community Schools administration described some of the moves at recent LCS dances.

"It was getting to the point where I was uncomfortable supervising the dance because of the way the kids were dancing," LCS Assistant Principal Mark Iverson said. "As a school, we couldn't defend the way the kids were dancing."

But now there is a list of new rules governing what is -- and isn't -- allowed at dances held at LCS.

And they written by students.

1. Partners must face each other when dancing

2. No grinding or dancing in a sexually suggestive manner

3. Girls' dresses and skirts must come down to their fingertips when standing up.

4. No hands on the floor

5. No making out.

LCS administrators started voicing concerns about school dances and the way some students were dancing last year, Iverson said.

After hearing from other schools making new rules about what is allowed at school dances and from parents and chaperones concerned about some dance styles, the administration decided to get the students involved.

Iverson, the LCS Student Council advisor, took the concerns to the council and asked the students their ideas for what the rules at dances should be.

"I'd rather have them come up with something and let the student body know, rather than us coming up with something and dictating it down to them," Iverson said.

He explained to the student council that a dance held on school grounds is different from a dance at another site, like the armory or at the convention center.

"There's a different set of expectations for the school to host a dance," he said. "It's a school activity. It's held to a different standard."

The student council doesn't always help set rules like this, but they agreed to do it after Iverson spoke to them, one student council member said.

"The things going on at dances weren't good," she said.

Although a couple members of the council didn't want to make changes, in the end, they approved the list of new rules.

"The group as a whole saw a need for it," Iverson said, adding that the students came up with some great feedback.

"I was really happy with what they did, because they even took it a step further and addressed the dress code," Iverson said. "I was really proud of them for that."

The whole purpose of the school hosting a dance is to offer a safe, alternate activity for students, he said.

"I tried to think back -- is this a generation thing?" he said. "Is this kind of like when Elvis came out shaking his hips?"

After talking to other principals, Iverson decided it wasn't just a different style of boogie for a different generation.

"Some of the kids were going over the line with the style of their dance -- the grinding and getting to the point of being obscene," Iverson said.

The new rules already went into effect, starting with the winter Snowball dance.

Under the new system, students got two strikes.

When they entered the dance, they received a plastic wrist band. If a chaperone saw them doing something inappropriate, the first warning would be to cut the wristband off.

Then, if that same student was caught doing something inappropriate again, the chaperone would see they had no wristband and would ask them to leave.

A student council member said the initial response to the new rules wasn't very good.

Although attendance is usually low for the Snowball, this year it was lower, Iverson said.

"We had maybe 100 kids at this dance," he said. "And a lot of it I was told was because some of the kids didn't like the new rules and they thought if we didn't have anyone come, we'd take the rules off."

Not so, he said.

"I don't think the rules will change any," he said, adding that he had expected some backlash from upperclassmen.

"I think once the younger grades start coming up, the attendance will come back up too," he said. "Of the kids that were there, 98 percent of them said that it was the best dance they'd been at because they didn't feel pressured to have to act a certain way or dance a certain way, they could just be themselves. That was kind of what I hoped would come out of this."

The student council member had a similar view.

"The dance was still a lot of fun with the new rules, if not more fun than before," she said. "I think people will come around and start going to dances more."

The student council puts on three major dances at LCS: Homecoming, the Snowball and TWIRP (The Woman Is Responsible to Pay).

Any other dances hosted by other clubs or organizations and held on school grounds also are subject to the new rules.

The prom dance is held at the Le Mars Convention Center and is run by parents. That means they can set the dance rules.

"I hope the parents will take our approach with what they allow at the dance, but that's their decision," Iverson said.

Having rules about school dances is not a new thing.

There are already some rules in place for dances at LCS. For example, boys are not allowed to wear shorts or blue jeans -- dress pants and a collared shirt are required. Girls' dress code at dances is also semi-formal. Dresses and pants are allowed, but shorts are not.

And right now, doors are locked and no more entry is allowed after 11 p.m. However, the student council also looked into the possibility of closing the doors earlier like 10:30 p.m. and having more chaperones.

When it comes to the "dirty dancing" issue, LCS isn't alone.

The question of adding rules on the dance floor at school is being asked across the nation -- schools in states as far away as New York and as close as Minnesota are making changes.

The debate still rages as to whether schools should implement rules on styles of dancing or if they're going too far.

But in Le Mars, Iverson stands by the new rules written by the student council.

"I think the changes will be good in the long run," he said.

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I think the rules are a good idea. Some schools even have rules about what type of music and songs are played. I disagree that it is only for dances hosted at the school. If the school kids are attending a dance that is in any way associated with the school (PROM at the convention center)the same rules should apply.

-- Posted by a2z on Mon, Dec 6, 2010, at 12:21 PM

I would like to congratulate the student council on taking a stand to help their school with a problem. It is proof that working together will help make our schools a better place for all activities.

I have to agree that some of the dancing that has been occurring at dances has become more of a demonstration of sex acts than dance. You must also be aware that not all the students are acting that way. We have many fine young people who go to our schools who do not act irresponsible and are ladies and gentlemen when out in public.

For many years the Prom was a part of school functions. It was held at the school and chaperoned by parents and school officials and school rules applied. After a problem arose with young people going out after the prom and getting into trouble an after prom party was established to give them a safe place to continue their prom experience in safety. The after prom party is paid for from donations from the community. This activity is a success.

Several years ago the prom moved to the Convention Center and its organization was taken over by parents. School rules were no longer enforced and problems have been reported of alcohol being used in the parking lot and inside the dance. The reason for this is because the parents trying to do the right thing do not have authority or experience to enforce rules for the safety of the young people.

It is time for the school to once again be the sponsor of the prom and enforce the rules for the safety of the youth who attend our schools. We have a lot of good young people attending our school in LeMars who choose not to abuse substances and want to attend a prom without having to watch demonstrations of sex.

-- Posted by Jay King on Mon, Dec 6, 2010, at 2:49 PM

I agree with Jay King. After hearing stories from my nieces and nephews over the years, I hope prom goes back to the school. The behavior of these kids is ridiculous. Parents seem too eager to be friends/buddies with their kids, they are too accepting of their behaviors and need to enforce rules. It's crazy to see so many differences in the world today. It was just 15 years ago that I was attending LCHS dances! I really hope things change before my children reach high school, and for the better.

-- Posted by bzemom on Mon, Dec 6, 2010, at 4:52 PM

All I can say is......... IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!!

It used to be that you had to attend a gentleman's club and pay for the things these kids are readily handing out to anyone who will accept them. Very pitiful that dancing has come to this. It's time for teenagers to act like young adults again, rather than to just go through the motions they presume to be "grown up". Heck, hopefully it's one more step to end teenage pregnancy around here.... Let's hope!!!!

-- Posted by jjhoward28 on Mon, Dec 6, 2010, at 5:59 PM

It's great that you were open Jay about what goes on. Most if not all already know, have seen, and heard from their kids what takes place at prominade, dance, and after prom party.

-- Posted by economics101 on Tue, Dec 7, 2010, at 8:15 AM

Excellent! I wish other area schools could/would follow suit. It's perfect that the student council got involved; that sends a message that it's not some old fogeys forcing their old-school ways on them, rather a problem seen even by their peers.

-- Posted by TuesdaysGone on Tue, Dec 7, 2010, at 11:39 AM

I am glad to see that LCHS is stepping up and taking charge. Like you said, LCHS is not alone when it comes to the "dirty dancing" these kids do now a days. My own daughter hates going to the dances because if you don't dance that way you are bullied until you do or you decide to leave. It is very embarassing at times to watch these youth do moves that I can't imagine trying as an adult in private.

Our school PROM is run by the parents yet is part of the school regimen. To keep the alcohol out of the party they station policemen at the party doors and each student is required to do a breathealyzer test prior to entering. If you pass you are free to go in. If you fail - you are screwed. Here comes the minor and the call to your parents. Plus once you are in the door you are not allowed out. If you leave you don't come back and a phone call is placed to the parents so they know they left and are their responsibility.

My advice - leave the sex moves to the bedroom and leave some to the imagination!

-- Posted by lchsgrad81 on Tue, Dec 7, 2010, at 1:55 PM

Maybe we should also look at the moves of the Danceteam. Some of their moves are embarassing and very sexual and they are representing our school and community.

-- Posted by readerone on Tue, Dec 7, 2010, at 7:54 PM

I can't believe the stories I hear about highschoolers and their dance moves. Save it for Dingers when you're old enough!!! Maybe they need to bring the loop back. We managed to stay out of trouble, for the most part... Nobody in my graduating class had a baby in high school, and that was only 11 years ago... Just a thought. I am glad there are rules, and to the ones that "rebelled" and didn't go to the dance because of the rules, you're only hurting your own high school experience.

-- Posted by GO HAWKS on Tue, Dec 7, 2010, at 10:20 PM

Please note that everybody who posted so far is probably a parent or at least someone over the age of 25. I graduated from LCHS 2 years ago, so I am not a student anymore, but I still have many friends who are. To be honest, these rules are ridiculous. Come on guys. When you're a junior or senior in high school, what more do you want than to be dancin' with your guy or girl on the floor. Touching a little too much, perhaps, but it's all in good fun and is hurting NO ONE. When you were our age, did you really want to go to a dance and stand a foot+ away from the person you liked, not being able to touch what so ever? How romantic and fun is that? I understand that there are some things that go on at these dances that are not appropriate. But that's what you have the teachers there for. So instead of making all these ridiculous rules, maybe the teachers should just do their job and watch for kids who are taking it a bit far rather than taking all these special moments and ruining them for these kids.

Really think back to your high school days. How were you on the dance floor? So it may not be the most appropriate, but were you having the time of your life building memories you remember today? Don't take that away from your children.

-- Posted by LCHSStudent on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 1:07 AM

LCHSSstudent: Taking away would be no dances at the school at all. There still being held but in an appropriate fashion. There is always the back seat of a car for those that choose to "dance" in a sexual or suggestive manor. And that way you still will create memories for both you and your "dance" partner but in private.

-- Posted by economics101 on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 8:28 AM

LCHSStudent, the teachers should not have to be babysitters for the students. It would be great if they did not have to interact with the dancing and just observe. Isn't that what you really want when attending a dance?

My take on it, it is a public school activity and there need to be guidelines adhered to for safety and community responsibility. It might not seem like anything at the time, but the school is under a microscope all the time by the community and is a representative of the community. There are things you can do off school property that are not tolerable on school property.

Also, the kids representatives made the rules. I think that speaks well for the student body of the school and shows responsibility. The rules can be changed/amended at any time by the student body to ones that work best.

Maybe this doesn't seem reasonable to you now... wait a few years and re-read this and I believe your view on this subject will have dramatically changed.

-- Posted by Michael Lamb on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 8:29 AM

Just a couple of observations. First, I think it is a good start that the Student Council took action. The Student is supposed to provide leadership for their fellow students and that is what they are doing, congratulations.

Next, LCHSSTUDENT the problem with the idea of letting kids be kids is that each passing generation pushes the envelope a little farther and when a teacher is put into a situation where they need to stop certain behaviors too many students will go home and complain to parents about how they were just dancing and the teachers made them stop. It seems the story is always different that what actually happens, by the way. So what happens? The teacher is now a villain for enforcing common decency. LCHS student there is a difference between a slow dance with your arms around your girl and dancing with your girl's skirt hiked up and her straddling your leg and rubbing up and down on your thigh.

Lastly, as for go do it somewhere else, like the back seat. Really? How about we say, "That is not acceptable behavior for a high school student. Don't do it!" I am going to strectch this specific topic to include another subject. Is this the next step in permissive behavior? Is this going to be "well, they're going to do it so let's let them do it while we can watch and make sure they do it with a condom?" Is this going to be like alcohol where parents and other community leaders, yes that's right, think it's okay to serve minors in their homes? I hope not!

So are we going to have dances sponsored by parents like the one at the golf course last summer if the school is allowed to enforce rules of decency?

Let the school enforce the rules. Parents, let the teachers enforce rules. Put PROM back in the hands of the school. Let the Police do the same job on the high school campus.

It's time for parents to make their students accountible for their behavior rather than attach those trying to enforce decent behavior. If you get a call from the school, don't take it out on a teacher. Find the facts and put the consequence on those who violated rules.

-- Posted by tiredofrhetoric on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 11:41 AM

I agree on having the "loop" back is a great idea. No one got hurt, the cops made money on the tickets they could issue(plus on the revenue for cops in town), the gas stations sold gas, munchies, pop excellent source of keeping money here since LE MARS HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO OFFER KIDS, except drinking and drugs. How boring would it have been when we were younger without the loop or the movie theatre??? Shoot we even had a skating rink for the younger kids, but no one really cared about saving it. "To many fights, or I saw someone kiss their girl/boy friend." It's gonna happen, as we did when we were younger they will think they are the first to try it. As for all this dance crap. I really thought I was reading a movie review on "Footloose". Grow up mom's and dad's out there. WE HAD RULES AND I HAD 2 GIRLS KNOCKED UP IN 8TH GRADE AND MORE IN HIGH SCHOOL my graduating year. We can't protect them forever and if we try, they will not know how to live on their own.

-- Posted by dolly on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 12:20 PM

TIRED, the intent behind that comment wasn't a condoning of that behavior or the dancing that has taken place it was meant as sarcasm. As far as watching them in the back seat? I get sarcasm. Those monitoring the dances will still have to "police" the situation and remove the party involved. So tired it doesn't change the crying to mom and dad when they are kicked out. And the new rules don't eliminate or change the judgemnet issue for the teacher leveling the penalty of being kicked out either. BUTTTTTTTTTTTT at least everybody knows the rules up front. And tired what people do in there homes, what they allow, and or permit their kids to do is no concern of yours or mine. Simply put what happens in public can be voiced with appproval or concern, but behind closed doors isn't for us to judge.

-- Posted by economics101 on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 1:53 PM

Economics, for the most part you and I see eye to eye on this subject. Sorry that I didn't get the sarcams One area we don't agree has to do with the notion that what others do in there house is no business of ours. Well, let me say, to a certain extent I agree. But my point is the idea that "kids will be kids" is justification for "let them do it where we can watch." To me that is a cop-out of parental responsibility.

Keep in mind it is illegal for a minor to possess alcohol. It is illegal for someone of majority age to supply minor with alcohol. Dance rules are now in place, it's not ok to not follow them.

As a parent of two high school kids I do believe I have a right to know if an adult is making alcohol available to my kids when they are in that home. If a minor is provided alcohol in the home of a parent and then crashes into my car or your car should it have been my/your business? How about if they take the kids car keys, you say. Ok, how about when the children walk out of the house, maybe Saturday night when it's below zero, and they stumble across a highway and get hit. Is it my business then? I know we can't control accidents but we surely can and should care about adults condoning and complying with irresponsible or illegal acts.

We need to empower the teachers to enforce these new dance rules. I am still baffled as to why a high school studentm, last year, was allowed into a dance so drunk that shortly after entering the dance he was throwing up in the bathroom. Then he was dealt with. I have a feeling the teachers don't feel as though they can enforce what rules were/are in place without fear that a parent is/was going to pursue some sort of complaint about them.

While these issues are not unique to Le Mars, I don't understand why so many want to give up and say, "kids will be kids." Retired, I wholeheartedly agree with you, we can't just give up.

Dolly, you're right we can't protect children forever but I think we can teach them responsible behavior, don't you? Isn't it a shame two eight grade girls were pregnant in your class? Do you think that was responsible behavior? I wonder how those girls feel about it now? Suppose they will teach there children that it's ok to be pregnant when they are 13? What you wrote is exactly the kind of mentality that causes teen pregnancy, underage drinking, drug issues. Becaus of that mindset the "they're going to do it anyway" mentality allows more and more permissive, irrersponsible/illegal behavior. Your approch is the easy way out not the right way out.

And by the way, if my children are involved in irresponsible/illegal behavior nobody is going to get a call from me complaining about it. They will deal with the consequences of their actions.

-- Posted by tiredofrhetoric on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 4:03 PM

I am glad to see the Student Council involved with the process too. My daughter was one of those students who wouldn't attend the dances because of the dancing "styles". It makes others uncomfortable and it is inappropriate to be sure.

Prom should support the decisions made by the high school and adopt the same behavior expectations.

A thought: I know some schools, in Plymouth County, have a breath-a-lizer at the door for admittance. Those who do not pass, have parents called to pick them up. No police are involved at this stage. They are allowed to make a mistake without it staying on his/her record for life, but not allowed to participate.

Thank you Mark Iverson for not backing down. Let the students know you stand behind what you say.

-- Posted by Reading4news on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 4:59 PM

Dolly, Le Mars offers nothing more than drinking and drugs, huh? Well, I'm sorry you feel that way about our community because I for one find it plenty of things to do in Le Mars and so do my kids. Kids can choose amongst plenty of extra-curricular school activities either to partipate in or watch, the Asylum, Church Activities, the Y, the bowling alley, the swimming pools, the parks, recreation trail, golf course, the fair, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the library, in a short time a movie theater to name a few. I know some are seasonal but if you want to find something constructive to do you don't have to look very hard.

-- Posted by tiredofrhetoric on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 5:19 PM

Comments I'm replying to:

"Student, as you mature and become a parent you will come to understand this more."

"LCHSSstudent: Taking away would be no dances at the school at all. There still being held but in an appropriate fashion. There is always the back seat of a car for those that choose to "dance" in a sexual or suggestive manor. And that way you still will create memories for both you and your "dance" partner but in private."

"they're kids, what's romantic about any of it??"

1) That's the thing. I still have room to mature. The kids at these dances still need to mature. But going through these things are part of maturing. Maybe their/my opinion will change when we mature more, but we're not there yet. If you were my age, you'd be where I am now.

2) Kids are not having sex on the dance floor. I'm just gonna put that out there. Their bodies touch, but with fabric between. There's a difference. It's harmless dancing. If you don't like it, don't look. It's not that hard.

3) It may not seem romantic to you, but to these kids, it is. You forget that you've aged and you aren't a teenager anymore. But what about when you were? The guy or girl you were seeing was everything to you. And whether you like it or not, some of these kids will marry who they are with now. So don't downplay a high school relationship. Even though it may not be real, it's real to them.

I attended roughly 16 dances in my high school career. Honestly, it's not terrible except for up by the stage. And the group is so tight and crowded you can't really see anything. If it really bothers you that much, go to the outer fringe of people or just don't look. It's not that hard. Really what is it hurting anybody? At least they're at the dance instead of out getting wasted and driving, etc. Just let them be and have their fun.

Also, the kids only made these rules because the administration pushed their hands. It's not like they came up to the principal and asked to clean it up. Because most of the kids don't care about the people dancing. And with these new rules, less kids are going to come to the dances, resulting in less money. I know of many of my friends who have decided to just go to the regional dances that let them have fun however they want instead.

-- Posted by LCHSStudent on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 8:18 PM

Tired, I do agree that the thinking behind letting kids drink at home is quote "supervised drinking or safe drinking" is wrong and any way you look at it, it is illegal. It's no different than a 21 year old buying beer for kids accept when he gets squealed on his name is flashed all over the headlines. I guess what I meant to say is that you nor I have any recourse or legal ramifications until after something happens and then it's to late. And I too have high school age kids and what takes place at prom is a shame to from the reports back from my kids. I have always stood by the CODE OF CONDUCT being enforced right up till graduation day and that Prom is not a right of passage for the day to get toasted.

-- Posted by economics101 on Thu, Dec 9, 2010, at 10:16 AM

While I find the current dance techniques repugnant, notice that this topic is a recurring battle between the older and younger generations. They make movies about this stuff, and everyone in this town is taking their predictable positions..

It wouldn't be right for kids today to get away with the new social norms just because you did not?

-- Posted by former_resident on Thu, Dec 9, 2010, at 10:56 AM

I think that there is a point of responsibility where the generational gap is no longer able to be viewed as Former_resident suggests.

Our society has changed and evolved into more 'open' communications about things that no longer leave anyone bashful. We have underwear, medical conditions, pharmeceuticals, sexual contact items,and many others in commercials of prime time. While many of these are 'facts of life' one will eventually encounter, is it appropriate to have at a dinnertable conversation? The dinnertable conversations are practically non existant anymore so we will never know. I believe the real question is, at what point is sexual conduct inappropriate? It is a judgement call, but if it can't viewed on prime time TV, then it might not be something to be done on public school activities.

At what point does the student make their own responsible decisions? Many social behaviors have changed, but learning to establish boundaries, understand interactions, and know one's impact of a critical decision is not always realized by the individual until they are able to review. Most youngsters do not review until a major crisis hits.

I can say that sexually suggestive moves can be misinterpreted and can place the individual at risk of violence.

Since the dancing is part of the school activities and represents the school and community, we must ask ourselves how we wish to be represented.

-- Posted by Michael Lamb on Thu, Dec 9, 2010, at 9:01 PM

Wow... haha you people say there's a problem with kids drinking at dances well, the only way kids are going to go to the dances now is if they're hammered, gay, or extremely bored. Oh and yeah there is a recreation trail and all that stuff but no one usually does that unless they're wasted either. I think LCHS just gets tired of enforcing rules so they make new ones to satisfy their boredum.

-- Posted by LCHS09 on Sat, Jan 1, 2011, at 6:03 PM

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