After a group of students showed up drunk at a Mamaroneck High School dance on Friday, January 8, administrators decided to discontinue the popular activity.
The dances, known as The Coast, have been held twice a year since 2007 in the pavilion at Harbor Island Park in Mamaroneck Village. Organized by a student board , the dances attracted a diverse crowd of students from all grade levels.
The January 8 dance had been restricted to 350 students holding previously purchased tickets, and there were a number of chaperones, including an assistant principal, the student activities coordinator and several teachers and other school staffers.
Students learned of The Coast cancellation at a lunch-time forum on Tuesday, January 12. Around 100 students attended as did the school principal, assistant principals, athletic director, guidance counselors, student activities coordinator and social worker.
Among the topics discussed were the potential consequences for violating the Mamaroneck student code of conduct relating to alcohol consumption.
School officials, citing regulations on student privacy, revealed few details about the incident and what – if any – punishments were administered. Even unofficial sources – including PTSA volunteers and student leaders – were reluctant to speak on the record.
Debbie Manetta, spokesperson for the district, did say “We are very concerned about the amount of drinking that goes on in the community – as well as in other communities like ours.”
She referred to school policy posted on the district website, but said “there is discretion within the policy.”
Asked to comment on The Coast, Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried said, “Students enjoy getting together out of school, and it is disappointing that it won’t happen again in this format. There may be other venues that we’ll work with the Student Council on.”
Disappointment was a common reaction to the incident and its aftermath. “There are a lot of kids out there who would like to socialize without alcohol,” said Janet Buchbinder, a member of the Mamaroneck School Board and president of RADAR, an organization dedicated to reducing teen use of alcohol, drugs and other harmful substances.” It’s a shame that the actions of a few ruin it for everyone.”
Dances & Problems
This is not the first time that teen drinking or other misbehavior has scuttled a popular program. In the past, The Village of Larchmont allowed Mamaroneck High School dances, known then as The Cove, to occur at the play house in Flint Park. As with The Coast, the dances became overcrowded and organizers tried various schemes to keep attendance to a manageable level.
“We had a lot of problems and drinking was one of them,” said Larchmont resident Rita Plansky, one of two volunteer coordinators for close to a decade. “Most of the kids were very cooperative and great, but there were some who caused trouble,” she recalled.
The coordinator and Larchmont officials decided to end the program in 2003. “We agreed it was an accident waiting to happen,” said Ms. Plansky.
After The Cove closed, there was some interest in reviving it at a larger, more controllable location. One option under consideration was the Town of Mamaroneck Highway Department’s new garage at Maxwell Avenue. But for various logistical and safety reasons, the garage idea was never realized. (See: A New Venue for Teen Nightclub — in a Garage?