Town issues post-prom party alert

HUDSON – Hudson police are warning parents considering post-prom parties where underage kids have access to alcohol or other drugs to rethink their plans, even if their party would take place far beyond the town’s borders.

Capt. Bill Avery said this week that police have joined Alvirne High School faculty members in the effort to quash several would-be parties they fear may be in the works for the hours following Alvirne’s senior prom Saturday, May 9.

“We’re using all our resources to get as much information (on the parties) as we can,” Avery said. “We want to do everything we can do to keep the kids safe that night.”

Concerns that as many as five parents may be planning out-of-town parties with alcohol for prom-goers surfaced earlier this week when Alvirne principal Bryan Lane brought the issue to the School Board.

Avery said the issue first came to light when a concerned parent approached School Resource Officer Rachelle Megowen.

Lane told the board that he and Megowen began hearing more talk of the potential parties, often through conversation among gatherings of students, such as in the cafeteria and hallways.

The more he heard, Lane said, the more he felt compelled to bring their concerns to Superintendent Randy Bell and the board.”What I’ve been hearing is very disturbing,” Lane told the board. He said some parents had shown him a document that they would require underage partygoers and their parents to sign, but noted that such a document isn’t legally binding and doesn’t absolve anyone of liability.

There were also claims that since the parties would be held outside Hudson’s borders, any incidents would be out of local officials’ hands. Lane disagreed.

“Where they are doesn’t matter,” Lane said. “They’re our kids, whether the party is at Hampton Beach, in the Lakes Region, or in Maine.”

Avery seconded Lane’s comments.

“When we find out where these parties are, we’ll most certainly be in touch with police in that jurisdiction,” he said. “We’re in the process of gathering the information now.”

He didn’t name a town or city, but Avery said the locations that police have identified so far are all in New Hampshire.

“We applaud Mr. Lane and the teachers for their efforts,” Avery said.

The School Board voted unanimously to support Lane’s suggestion that he draft and send a letter to parents of Alvirne seniors.

“After all that I’ve heard, I don’t want to stand by and do nothing,” Lane said.

“These parties get ugly. Unfortunately, kids can do stupid things . . . they feel they’re invincible,” he added.

In his letter, Lane mentioned RSA 644-18, the state’s so-called “host law,” that covers penalties connected with holding underage drinking parties. “If a person holds a party at their house or rents a place for students to have an underage drinking party, that person is in violation of this law whether they are present or not,” Lane wrote, adding that he does understand parents’ intentions but is unable to accept the logic behind it.

Avery echoed Lane’s earlier comment about the stress and worry that prom season – specifically the morning after the prom – brings him.

“Like Mr. Lane said, prom night is one of the nightmare nights for police as well,” he said.

Avery said that any parent or student who has information or concerns on the issue is urged to contact police headquarters at 886-6011. Callers can remain anonymous if they wish, he said.

The most recent alcohol-related incident at an Alvirne prom occurred in 2007 when five students were taken into custody for internal possession of alcohol at the Castleton in Windham.

The incident prompted Alvirne officials to tighten their guidelines for off-campus events, and those changes were put into effect in time for a trip to Boston for a play. Among the 12 rules was one that asked students to refrain from chewing gum or eating mints as they boarded the buses, lest they be suspected of trying to hide the smell of alcohol on their breath.