Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Winter Formal Speech

January 23, 2014

This Saturday is our Winter Formal, and as is my tradition, I give my kids the Winter Formal speech in each of my classes.  It's my little way of trying to help them make good decisions and good choices on an evening when sometimes they get caught up in the moment and forget about potential consequences.  Do I think every single kid will heed my advice?  No, of course not.  But if the speech makes even one kid reconsider making a potentially devastating poor choice, then it's well worth the time I spend in class talking about it.  Here's what I tell them:

This is a speech I give every year in my senior classes, regarding a couple of things I find important to remind kids of before each of the Big Three: Winter Formal, Prom, and Graduation. Pay attention, because this is serious stuff. I give this speech because I'm a mama, and you'll just have to humor me. I have my own kids, but you're my kids, too, so you'll just have to deal with me being a mama for a moment. There are three things I'd like to address.

The first one is, I'm excited to see your pictures from the Formal.  It's wonderful to see you all looking so grown up, such ladies and gentlemen! It's one of my favorite things to see.(I'm sad that I didn't get selected for Formal duty this year, so I'll miss it in person!). However, that being said, one of my least favorite things about the dances is seeing the kind of dancing that goes on out on the dance floor. Having fun or being close and romantic is one thing, but the 'freaking' on the dance floor? Not pretty. Not attractive. Simulated sex on the dance floor is not dancing! And it totally undoes the elegant sophisticated look you took all day cultivating as you were getting dressed up like young ladies and gentlemen. Would you dance like that in front of your mama?  No? Then why do you think it's okay to put on that kind of display in front of your physics teacher or your English teacher.  It's just uncomfortable, you know?

The second part of the speech deals with a much more serious thing, which is the whole issue of drinking. There are a lot of you who think that because you're feeling all grown up and dressed up, and it's a festive time, that it's okay to drink. First of all, let me remind you that IT'S NOT LEGAL. But you know that, and some of you will choose to ignore that. So if you choose to make the first bad decision and drink on the night of the dance, don't make a second bad decision to get behind the wheel of a car. When you are driving home from the dance, so will lots of other people, all hoping and expecting to get home safely.  Don't be the one who changes that due to negligence. I want all of you to make it home alive and to be back here on Monday for school, safe and sound. I want you to make it to your graduation, which you have all worked so hard for.

This is not just about you drinking. If you are with someone who has been drinking, don't let them get behind the wheel. They might be mad at you, but that's okay. They'll get over it. Don't be the one who watches someone drive away, and then later finds out he spun out of control on the way home because he shouldn't have been driving. Decisions like that--one stupid decision--can irrevocably alter people's lives. Forever. Don't be that person. Don't let your friend be that person. Make good decisions. And if you make the first bad decision to drink, make a second good decision, and stay where you are, or have a designated driver. Call mom or dad to pick you up. Call ME to pick you up. I don't care if you call me a three o'clock in the morning. I would jump in the car and come get you to take you home, rather than have you driving out on the road, drunk. I am absolutely sincere about that. I'm not that hard to get ahold of.

The last word about drinking is please don't show up to the dance already drunk. I've had students who have been ejected within 15 minutes of their arrival because they had so obviously been drinking. This is supposed to be a fun night, and getting kicked out of the dance is not fun. Even really good kids sometimes have a lapse of judgment, but you don't want that kind of lapse in judgment to put to waste all the money and time you spent getting ready for this event. And what if you are the girlfriend whose date got caught, drunk? You are either stuck there to finish out the dance alone, or you have to go home. There's also the issue of having to face your parents with the bad news. Even worse, students who get caught drunk at the dance will get expelled under Zero Tolerance. After all those years of hard work, after all that time invested, don't make a decision that could lead to you not walking graduation with all of your classmates when you are so close to the light at the end of the tunnel.

And finally, speaking of graduation, let's do the math, shall we? We are about five months away from the big night, the culmination of all your years of academic work. Winter Formal night is a big night for a lot of kids. You're feeling grown-up, you're feeling you are on the verge becoming a fully independent young adult. And a lot of students feel that this is the perfect time to experiment with other 'grown-up' behaviors. All I'm going to say, girls, is that five months down the line, right about graduation time, you don't want to be the one who is suddenly starting to show evidence that you've accidentally come away from the Winter Formal with an extra souvenir----one that will be with you forever. Boys--you don't want to give in to temptation now to be left with a souvenir you aren't ready to be responsible for for the rest of your life. Be careful. Make good choices.

And have a great time!

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