Image: Hoagland
Ed Betz  /  AP
Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland, principal of Kellenberg High School, stands in the school's library in Uniondale, N.Y., in October. Hoagland sparked a national debate when he canceled the senior prom.
updated 4/5/2006 12:59:46 PM ET 2006-04-05T16:59:46

Two Long Island high schools that canceled their senior proms after years of burgeoning excess that included limos and weekend house rentals in the Hamptons announced a cut-rate compromise Tuesday that will involve bus rides and other more modest arrangements.

Instead of hiring chauffeurs, students will take buses to a Manhattan pier for a dinner cruise. Instead of tuxedos and fancy ball gowns, the dress code will be jackets and ties for boys and dresses for girls.

The cost is expected to be about $100 per student — a fraction of the cost of the wild parties of the past.

“The thing that we’re most pleased about is that this recommendation came from the students,” said Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland, principal of Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale.

Hoagland sparked a national debate about the ostentatiousness and debauchery that accompany many senior proms when he said last fall that his school would no longer sponsor a prom. Weeks later, officials at nearby Chaminade High School did the same. Both are Roman Catholic schools.

Hoagland sent a 2,000-word letter last fall to Kellenberg students and parents, decrying the “bacchanalian aspects” of that school’s prom.

Principal decries ‘flaunting of affluence’
“It is not primarily the sex/booze/drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be; it is rather the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity’s sake — in a word, financial decadence,” Hoagland said in his letter.

This week, Hoagland said the decision to cancel the prom “awakened people and gave them courage to stand up, and I think that has helped restore things to sanity.”

“The students came to us ... after reading our letter, saying they understand there have been abuses and they accept that as a problem,” Hoagland said Tuesday. “They would just like to have an event that celebrates their four years together and the idea of a dinner cruise was agreeable to us.”

Parent Edward Lawson initially decried the decision to cancel the prom at Kellenberg, but later said he was pleased by the agreement.

“It’s a great compromise. The kids stood up for themselves and the administration is going along with it,” said Lawson, whose son Robert is a senior.

The Rev. James Williams, president of Chaminade, said the revised celebration “is much more consistent with the values we adhere to.”

“It doesn’t have all the flamboyance and the over-the-topness of ‘how can I outdo somebody else,”’ said Williams. In recent years, he added, the prom “became a question of who had the biggest limousine, who had the most outrageous outfit. And now all that’s gone.”

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