PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- Seniors at Pleasantville High School could be getting a lesson in democracy this week when they vote on whether to change the location of their upcoming prom.
The June 8 prom was booked at the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, a private club owned by Donald Trump, before the real estate developer, who has property in Bedford, was elected president.
The Trump administration’s subsequent policies regarding immigrants and refugees and things the new president has said about women have left some soon-to-be grads, especially those who are Muslim, feeling worried and uncomfortable about the venue, school officials said.
Mary Kate Crowe, senior class co-president, told The Examiner she and members of the student government, a human rights group, and administrators, had talked about moving the prom to a politically neutral spot.
After Trump issued an executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, there were students who said they didn’t want to support a business belonging to someone they felt was attacking civil liberties, Crowe told The Examiner.
Some students were fine with the Briarcliff location, but others argued that they wanted a place where everyone could feel comfortable, Crowe told The Examiner.
Nobody should have to be thinking about politics while marking what is the pinnacle of most high school careers, she added, according to The Examiner.
According to Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter and Board of Education president Angela Vella, the school district and its stakeholders are putting together a ballot that will contain information about the financial consequences and other issues attached to relocating the prom.
Part of that data will include a “viable alternative,” to the Briarcliff venue, Vella said, adding that the choices, as of Tuesday, had been narrowed down to two possibilities.
A nonrefundable deposit of $4,000 -- money raised by both students and parents -- was put down when the booking was made last February. There will be an additional financial penalty for pulling out of said booking, Vella added.
The balloting is just “one piece of the puzzle,” Vella said.
Once the votes are counted – hopefully before the district’s winter break next week -- all data will be reviewed and a consensus reached by stakeholders.
It’s a “process,” both Vella and Fox-Alter said.
The end goal is not only to promote an “open and respectful dialogue” where students can be assured that their voices are heard but to have a prom where everyone is both comfortable and happy, Vella said.
“Ultimately, we want all the kids to go to the prom. We don’t want this to be a divisive issue,” Vella said. “It’s great that they’re involved (with world issues) and that they care. We don’t want to squelch that. But we want their prom to be an inclusive celebration of their years together, their achievements, and their upcoming graduation.
By helping students channel their “energy” and “passions” in a positive, unified direction, school stakeholders hope to start the healing process, Vella said.
The goal is to have “a memorable and meaningful prom for everybody,” Fox-Alter said, adding: “I’m 100 percent positive that will be the case.”
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