Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ball season spells party problems

Wanganui Chronicle

Wanganui's high-school ball season has started. And so has the problem of trying to police the secretive, sometimes out-of-control after-parties.

Schools spoken to by Wanganui Chronicle said they had their balls under control when it came to drinking they all have an outright ban but after-parties were often beyond their control.

Wanganui Girls' College acting principal Maartje Morton said their ball, which kicked off the ball season at the end of June, had been "absolutely fantastic" without any problems. However, some students had organised an after-party which got out of control.

Mrs Morton said she had heard about the party a few weeks before it happened and had done everything she could to stop it.

"We did all we could to alert them of the dangers of the party but because it was done privately and not on school sites we couldn't take the matter any further."

Wanganui High School's deputy principal Elizabeth Spooner said her school did not condone drunken after-parties.

The school supported students having a quiet, sober gathering after the ball the August 2, but they were "totally anti any organised hoolie".

Confirming it was often hoteliers bearing the brunt of bad student behaviour, Deputy Mayor Dot McKinnon, owner of the Kingsgate Hotel, said students were unwelcome at her hotel because of past problems, but sometimes they slipped through.

"When you've got 70 rooms to sell you don't always know who is in the rooms. Often the parents ring up and put the children in the room and we don't know that they are only children in there."

Students sometimes caused problems for others staying at her hotel.

"It's really just drunkenness, being sick and loud and noisy."

Alcohol Advisory Council strategy manager Andrew Hearn said unsupervised after-balls were a recipe for disaster.

"The combination of too much alcohol and lack of parental supervision means the potential for alcohol-related harms are huge."