Grind on, Grind off
The chaperones weave their way through the crowd of students, hip-hop music blaring from the speakers. The cafeteria feels more like a kitchen, hot from the five hundred teenagers dancing. Students wave their hands in the air, keeping a keen eye out for the dance chaperones stalking nearby.
These chaperones have but one mission: to stop grinders.
The current policy states that, when dancing, students should be “face to face, and leave some space.”
“It gives kids a definition of what they can and can’t do,” said Mark Willis, Sequim High School assistant principal.
Jennifer VanDeWege, teacher and ASB Advisor at Sequim High, said since the current policy was enacted three years ago, behavior at dances has improved. She said students are fairly respectful of the policy, and that’s why it works.
Students, such as Freshmen like Bill Koenig and Alexas Besand agree, and say that behavior by students and chaperones is fine.
Besand said, “For the most part it’s pretty good. But some people just don’t understand.”
Sequim High School dances are not the only place where dancing is being restricted, as Port Angeles High also has the same policy.
“If we have a school dance or event everyone should feel safe and comfortable,” said Scott Harker, former principal of Port Angeles High School.
School dance policies were too lenient, and “If you wouldn’t let them do it in the hallway, why would you let them do it on a dance floor,” Harker said.
Due to the lack of definite rules, students felt uncomfortable and VanDeWege received a lot of negative feedback from students and parents, saying that the dancing was not appropriate.
At a monthly meeting of principals in the Olympic League school districts in which Harker and Langston attended, the topic of grinding at school dances was brought up several times.
After receiving complaints about behavior at school dances from teachers, and coming to the general agreement that something needed to be done, many of the principals, including Harker and Langston, decided to simultaneously enact the face to face policy.
At Port Angeles High School, Harker developed a dance contract for his students. “If you chose to be at the dance you chose to follow the rules,” said Harker. “I thought we made it very clear.”
After implementing the policy, behavior at dances improved significantly, he said, but there were some students who opposed this rule change.
“When you start something, you get people who don’t like change, people that don’t agree, but at some point they’ll reach acceptance,” Harker said.
After the first dance with the new policy, at which several students were removed, Harker said, “probably about six kids came up and thanked me later for removing them.”
However, VanDeWege said that in response to the face to face policy, there was a backlash of students and parents feeling the rules were too restrictive.
Junior Mackenzie Grinnell Said, is just one of the students who feel too restricted by the chaperones. He said, “Some chaperones allow us to express ourselves, but others restrict us too much.”
He recalls that at the Sadie Hawkins Dance he was dancing face to face with a friend with ample room in between and he was broken up by chaperones. Elaborating on how much space there was, Grinnell said, “We could’ve easily had another person in between us, but then the dancing would’ve got kind of dirty.”
Senior Harrison Mitchell Said, “It all really depends on where you are at the dance. If you stay to the outside, the behavior is not that bad, but as you go deeper into the crowd it worsens.”
He added that music played at the Sadie Hawkins Dance was not very conducive to grinding, but music played at most other dances is, creating more problems for chaperones.
The ASB decided since the policy was unclear to chaperones and students, they would put together a video so students and chaperones have the same information
VanDeWege hopes that the video will create a visual representation of what the rule is and how to enforce it, which unify the student’s and chaperones’ concepts of what face to face truly means.
The video will be shown to students through the GNN, and all class advisors will have a copy to show to chaperones.
VanDeWege said, “We’re just hoping it clarifies.”