Letters to the Editor

Vashon schools should reconsider 'grinding' decision, amid prom cancellation

I want to make the community aware of what has resulted from the decision to ban the grinding style of dancing at Vashon High School dances. School dances — something that students have looked forward to and attended in large numbers — are headed toward extinction. The annual spring prom last weekend was cancelled because only a few tickets were sold. The tolo dance in February was sparsely attended and a big money loser for the school, despite expensive entertainment alternatives like laser tag and a video game bus.

As a parent, I personally find grinding offensive. I was very uncomfortable witnessing it at the first dance I chaperoned several years ago. However, the recent decline of school dances reveals an important issue that the community needs to consider. For decades, dances have provided fun, safe and substance-free evenings for students.

As I write this letter, students are planning “prom substitute” parties in private locations where drinking, drugging and driving could mix in an unhealthy and potentially unsafe environment.

I encourage the parents and school district staff who acted to ban grinding to consider the potential consequences, not only for the safety of our children but also to avoid loss of an important tradition and right-of-passage.

The teens I have talked with say they don’t know what to do at dances where grinding is banned, since that’s the only way they know how to dance. They also say they do not feel respected in the way the decision to ban grinding was handed down.

Let’s rethink this one, re-open the conversation with our teens and ask them to help come up with a solution. Maybe it’s easing up on the grinding restrictions. Perhaps it’s teaching the kids some new dance steps. Maybe it’s coming up with other activities that the students would really enjoy and providing the organizational support and funding for them.

— Marian Wachter

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