LAWRENCE — After canceling the prom when seven out of 64 seniors came to school on the traditional Senior Skip Day, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School offered them an alternative.
Yesterday morning, school principal, dean of students and outgoing president, met with students to get their feedback on whether to cancel the prom and return their money or have a semi formal, said Rebecca Twitchell, Marketing and Communications director for Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School.
The student’s decision was split during the morning meeting, so administrators gave students the day to think about it and brought it to a vote at the end of the school day. More than 50 percent of the students chose to have a semi formal May 30 at DiBurro’s Function Hall in Bradford.
“It’s not a prom, but it’s better than not having one,” said Mariel Aleman, who will attend Holy Cross.
Twitchell said the main difference between the prom that was scheduled and the semi formal will be that it is more of a dance - not a sit-down dinner.
Parents received a telephone call last Wednesday warning them that if their children skipped school May 15, the prom was canceled. Students were told of the consequences and given several chances to change their minds.
Aleman was among the group that went to Pentucket Way Lake in New Hampshire instead of attending classes.
“I didn’t see any harm in skipping a day. I don’t regret doing it, what I regret is what happened afterward,” she said. “We acted on emotions and as 18 year old you think you know everything and have the whole world figure out, but you have to learn to wait.”
Administrators could not make a decision until yesterday because seniors work Fridays and Mondays in order to earn money for their tuition.
Notre Dame Cristo Rey is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The non-profit school is sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. As part of the Cristo Rey Network. students work in entry level clerical positions through its Corporate Work Study Program. They contribute $6,750 from their work study while their families pay $2,800.
Sarah Toribio and other seniors said they didn’t mean to cause such a commotion. Toribio will major in business management at University of Massachusetts, Boston in the fall.
“We participated as a class and bonded,” she said.
At the lake, the Notre Dame students had a barbecue and some went into the water.
Some seniors felt the administration was not going to follow up on the punishment and decide as a group to participate in senior skip day.
“Part of what we do is to protect them from themselves, but it doesn’t always work. We also want to teach them that there consequences to every decision they make,” said Notre Dame principal Margaret “Peg” Dowing.
Marlysa Gonzalez and Gabriel Morel were among the seven students who showed up for class.
“I’m glad I went to school,” said Gonzalez, who will attend Pine Manor College in the fall.
Gonzalez and Morel said teachers were helpful, editing essays, reviewing their work.
“From the administrator’s standpoint, their heart was in the right place. They didn’t want us to fail,” Gonzalez said of the decision to cancel the prom.
“But the students felt it was the last thing they could do before going our separate ways and were angry they (school administrators) were going to take away something (the prom) they worked so hard for.”
Morel did not participate in senior skip day at the encouragement of his parents. He is studying at University of Southern New Hampshire in the fall.
“I didn’t think it was a bad thing, but my parents come first. I learn that the authority and the power of adults have to be respected,” Morel said.