Renting tuxedos, buying dresses and finding a date are all part of prom preparation for high school students. No one in Wilmington will get to enjoy their big night, however, without the event that happens this Tuesday.
As a part of the Wildcat Project, hosts a mandatory educational evening for students planning to attend the upcoming prom. Parents must also attend the event, funded through the Northwest Suburban Health Alliance, the Lahey Clinic and the Wilmington Education Foundation.
This is the second year the school has held the program, which teaches participants about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and abuse.
“We started this project because there were students showing up to prom under the influence,” said high school nurse leader Doreen Crowe. “There was a recognition that we needed to do something about that. It’s not only in a problem in our community. It’s a problem not just across the state, but also throughout the country.”
The session is Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in the high school gym, and is a collaborative effort of the high and middle schools, the Wilmington Police Department, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Officer and the Billerica House of Correction.
“The goal is to educate students and parents and to reinforce efforts to provide a safe, healthy, drug free environment for all children,” said a press release on the event.
According to Crowe, the Wildcat Project wasn’t welcomed with open arms during its initial year. In its second campaign, the project is likely to be more openly accepted, according to Crowe.
“There was a little bit of resistance,” said Crowe. “We explained what the issues were, and that we felt the need for parents and students to attend. The feeling was that if we didn’t make it mandatory, we couldn’t capture the audience necessary to be at the program. The principal dug his heels in, and we’re glad he did.”
Junior prom is Friday, while senior prom is slated for May 13.
“Despite the resistance, (the Wildcat Project) was very successful last year and people understood it after the program,” said Crowe. “There were some eye-opening statistics on drug use not just in the state, but in Middlesex County. People were surprised what was happening in their backyard.”