Students adjust to new penalty box


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penalty box artMany students did not like the penalty box at Homecoming, but the return of it to Snoball reminded students that they should start getting used to the idea of it. The purpose of the penalty box  is to stop inappropriate dancing, and it should continue being used to create a better environment at the dances for everyone.

At Homecoming, students got a taste of a new type of dirty dancing control called “The penalty box.” Staff members volunteered to patrol the Homecoming dance by sending grinders to the penalty box in an effort to stop dirty dancing. There were some different opinions among those who attended the dance as to how it went, but overall very few comments were positive.

Some students and teachers had different views when it came to the new type of monitoring, though one thing was certain: students had to get used to some form of accountability at upcoming dances. Teenagers in general do not like authority figures telling them what to do, but like all rules, they should get use to it.

English teacher Sarabeth Leitch  came up with the idea for the penalty box. She had never chaperoned before, but had heard about the dancing styles, which made her feel uncomfortable to attend. Everyone in the dance should feel comfortable being there and all should feel welcome.

Leitch wanted to come up with an effective way to control the unacceptable dancing without being too critical with the students. She hoped that the penalty box could be light hearted, but at the same time effective in preventing grinding and other dirty dancing.
According to Leitch, she has been joking around about the idea for the last couple of years but never knew if it would happen or not. As school officials started to brainstorm what to do about the trends that were getting dances cancelled at other schools in the local area, she shared her idea as an alternative to banning students or cancelling dances. Overall, she found that it was pretty successful for the first time.
Leitch thought it was an interesting experience and it definitely struck up a lot of conversation. She added that it was also a good time for her to teach kids how to dance old school with the help of English teacher Brandi Kruse.

According to sophomore Hanna Pettina, it did not have an effect at all. She stated that she was only in the box for a couple of minutes and then she was let out.

Leitch and Kruse made kids do the robot, running man and some other old dances and then made people promise that they would not dance inappropriately.

Pettina added that she felt really dumb and felt that it was kind of pointless because they just sent her back out onto the floor once she was done learning some new moves. There were a few students that did not like the penalty box at all.

Another student who experienced the penalty box was junior Gre’gonta Brown. Like Pettina, Brown felt the penalty box was very different and almost pointless. According to Brown, it did not stop him from dirty dancing.

Though some students disliked it, overall it seemed to have an impact. According to activities director Gonrowski, he saw a big change compared to the after game dance just a couple weeks before.

Gonrowski also supported the penalty box. He wanted to see a change and put a stop to inappropriate grinding at the dances.

He added that the recent dance had a lot less dirty dancing than the previous dances and it seemed that the students started to change the way they danced on their own. From an onlooker’s perspective, it did seem that kids responded by halting their dirty dancing while teachers were looking.

They tried the penalty box again at Snoball, and it seemed to hold the intended effect better. Leitch stated that students were much more respectful and understanding this round, and that students also started teaching new moves in the box. She mentioned that principal John Koch even jumped in on the dancing to help students learn ways to keep it clean and still have a good time.

According to junior Kaitlyn Franklin, even though she was not sent to the penalty box, she did think it was pretty drastic but funny to watch. She also stated that it is pretty ridiculous that they played songs that would make kids want to dance like that; it set kids up for failure. While this may be true, many popular songs today encourage those types of behaviors, and it would be hard to have a playlist that would not include them in it.

Students may see the penalty box in upcoming dances, according to Gonrowski. Rather than complaining, they should just adjust to any form of monitoring at these dances, just like every rule that is instated at school.

Many of the ways to control dancing at other school districts in the area are punitive, like the way they use wristbands as warnings to not dirty dance and kick students out after a one warning.  Some Portland schools went as far as not having dances all together. Staff and leadership wanted to use the penalty box as a friendly or funny reminder, according to Gonrowski.

After the return of the penalty box at Snoball, the reactions and feedback from students and faculty came back more positive than previously with Homecoming.

Gonrowski stated that the DJ cleaned up most of the music, playing popular music often played on the radio. He also commented that it has not been evaluated if the penalty box will return, but he felt that it did a good job cleaning up the dances. He felt it taught the kids that there are boundaries and they will take action if the line is crossed.

Snoball got positive reactions and feedback from students too. According to senior Natalia Martinez, Snoball was way better than Homecoming. She felt that the song selection was cleaned up really well and the dancing was cleaner too.

Another positive reaction was given by sophomore Parker Blankenship. He felt that Snoball was thought out better than Homecoming and it overall felt like a better environment than Homecoming too.

Compared to Homecoming, Snoball was a success, and it seems that more students have gotten used to the idea of the penalty box like they should. Dances in the future will be better off with this tool at their disposal.

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Students adjust to new penalty box