Everybody knows what happens at prom after-parties, right? After-parties are often shown by Hollywood movies as wild celebrations where under-age teenagers engage in sex, drugs and drinking without any adult supervision or prohibitions.
But, Hollywood may be wrong according to students.
The prom is portrayed as the apex of a high school student’s life. It is a students chance to celebrate the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood in formal clothing.
Teenage prom movies like American Pie show prom after-parties as places where illegal activities are rampant due to the lack of adult supervision. But former high school students present a more PG 13 version of their experiences.
While they admitted that there were after-parties that involved drinking, they also said that Hollywood’s version was an exaggeration.
“It’s kind of on the same basis as the movies except that there is no illegal activity going on,” said Mark Sarvinas, a first-year University of Toronto student.
Sarvinas, along with his friends chose to get together at a friends house after prom and just hang out. But there were some students that did go to the stereotypical Hollywood after-party.
“I heard there was a hard-core after-party, it was like a university thing except with under-age people pretty much.”
While the common misconception is that the after party means sex, drugs and heavy drinking, most students enjoyed that after-party more because it was as a place to hang out with friends without being supervised, Sarvinas said.
Current high school seniors are looking forward to celebrating the end of high school and the beginning of university with prom.
“Out of all our years of high school, prom is supposed to be the big moment and the final thing you celebrate before you go out to uni,” said Nisha Saba, a senior student from Pope John Paul II High School.
However, while prom is something that senior students are waiting for they also said they were more excited about the after-parties.
“I think prom is just the formality and an after-party is the thing you’re actually looking forward to because an after party’s supposed to be your one time to let loose, to enjoy yourself since everything’s done and over with,” Saba said.
Eric Caparas, a fellow senior Pope John Paul II High School student agreed with Saba’s sentiment. While Caparas was not sure he would attend the prom, he was certain that he would attend an after-party.
“Well, the after-party’s where everyone just chills,” he said adding, “You don’t have to be that formal, you’re not in your dress clothes anymore.”
However while some high school seniors may be expecting a wild night at after-parties they may be in for a surprise.
“There was no after-party and so we left, I left at 11 o’clock and then went to bed,” said Julia Welsh, a first-year Wilfred Laurier University student.
During prom, students are heavily chaperoned by teachers making sure students behave themselves appropriately and ensuring no illegal activities occur.
“There was a lot of teacher supervision at my prom,” Welsh said.
Teachers even accompanied them if they went out to get fresh air to ensure no students were bringing in alcoholic beverages or doing drugs outside, Welsh said.
She also pointed out that before prom students were told the rules and warned not to drink and drive.
Sarvinas also recalled a similar assembly and discussion by his school before his prom.
“Our high school did have a presentation about drunk driving and what you can bring and if you leave you can’t come back in,” said Sarvinas. “They covered the rules.”
Carolyn Swinson, a representative of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Toronto, said the organization goes to high schools throughout the year and gives multimedia presentations to tell students of the dangers of impaired driving. The organization also brings in victims of impaired drivers or relatives of victims to speak to the students.
“They’re true stories,” Swinson said adding the that presentations outline the consequences of drinking and driving as well as other situations that kids can get in trouble with by consuming alcoholic beverages.
Swinson added that while they cannot visit all high schools in Toronto, local chapters of MADD run programs specifically dedicated to prom.
“In Toronto we’ve done an activity where students have to sign a contract when they buy their prom tickets that say they won’t drink and drive,” she said.
Swinson also said that providing the multimedia presentations and having a guest speaker helps prevent students from driving impaired during prom and throughout the year.
“I think [the number of accidents] would be higher if we didn’t do them,” Swinson said.
Although teachers and chaperones are vigilant during prom to ensure that nothing illegal occurs, high school students’ end up looking forward to the after-parties even more so than prom because of the lack of supervision thus making the after-party – the party to go to.
Saba said that the fact that a prom after-party would not have adults supervising makes it made it even more stimulating than prom.
“It’s what everyone talks about because everyone has the biggest plans for the after-party,” Saba said. “Prom is just the formality, your teachers are there, chaperones and everything so you don’t really look forward to it as much as the after party.”