Thursday, May 1, 2014

Shame on Me or Shame on Them?

My social media news-feed is full of photos of young people in pretty gowns and tuxedo's. Every time I turn it on there are more photos to see.  It is Prom time. A right of passage of dressing up and dancing the night away. Every year up to this one, I have just sat back and enjoyed the photos in my news-feed. But not this year.

My favorite photo from The Boy's prom
This year was different. This year The Boy was old enough to attend Prom. Once I moved beyond the excitement that he is growing up and has reached yet another milestone I had a lot of unanswered questions and more than a few worries.  Would he drink? Would he stay safe? Would he make good decisions in the face of others? Like every other teen going to prom he thought he would get a party bus, hang out with friends, and he would be able to party the night away. I also know that he thought it was okay that members of his party planned to drink alcohol.

His school  like so many schools now offer safe alternatives for prom night in the fashion of "after prom". I believe in "After Prom" programs. I even helped bring the first one to my own Alma mater when I was a Senior in high school.  "Project Prom" as they were called back then were relatively new and took a lot of convincing to get them off the ground.

I absolutely encouraged him to attend. It was a hard sale. None of his friends were going. It would not be cool unless he knew people there. Besides these things, my son is a early to bed kinda kid. I have never enforced a bedtime with him. He has always put himself to sleep early and he rises early. If he did not go to After Prom he would have been home by 1:00 and in bed by 1:05.

Then the planning committee made a huge game changing announcement:


A local car dealership donated a car as a grand prize? That was big news. And maybe enough to convince some to go to After Prom!

This first announcement was followed up with another to check out the following news clip:

  School helps make prom safer with chance to win car - KCTV5

The news clip provided the first and really only details about how someone could win the car. Someone would have to roll the dice and spell out "N E W  C A R". Sounded kinda like Yahtzee. Getting a Yahtzee is not easy but it is also possible.   I also believed with lower attendance at After Prom that it was possible that attendee's could have more than one chance at winning the car. I absolutely encouraged my son to attend and have his turn at winning the car.


Something else stood out for me in this press release. It was the information under the photo of the donated car. It says "Jay Wolfe Toyota is donating a 2014 Toyota Scion, a $25,000 value, to Staley High School's after prom party. A lucky student will win it."

The night of prom came. He was the only person in his prom group to leave the party bus early to go to the After Prom.   When he came home at 5:10 a.m. the first thing I asked about was the car.

 No one won the car. No one. He said Juniors were given two chances to win and seniors were given three. The dice used were six sided dice that were blank on five sides with a letter on one side.

I contacted the After Prom Committee Chairperson and asked what was to become of the car and if this was all a gimmick to get more teens to attend the After Prom. Here is her response:

"As it was stated in all of the correspondence and the newscast, the car was not a giveaway, but rather a contest.  Each Junior and Senior that attended was automatically entered into the contest and if they stayed to participate was given their opportunity to try to win.  Unfortunately, no one completed the contest successfully.  The car itself was not a donation just given to the school or Falcon Club but rather a prize sponsored by Jay Wolfe Toyota in conjunction with Odds On Promotions in the event someone won the contest.  

Here is the link to the news article for more information.  As you can see, it states clearly "chance to win" in the title and the video also shows a snippet of what the contest entails.  Unfortunately, the amount of time it takes to run this type of contest is too long to show the entire process.  We were very fortunate to get the time we were given.


The car has since been returned to Jay Wolfe Toyota.  In no way, shape or form was it a "gimmick" just to get the kids to come with no actual chance of winning.  We took great care to find a contest that would be something everyone could participate in as opposed to one based on a physical skill such as having to shoot a half court basketball shot; and also did our best to create odds that were favorable to a student winning.   However, due to the regulations surrounding the contest, the rules were very clear on what had to be achieved for someone to win, which sadly no one was able to do.  We were hopeful someone would beat the odds but there was always a chance no one would win."
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My first reaction to her email: "the car was not a donation but rather a prize sponsored by the dealership in conjunction with Odds on Promotions,"  Really? Didn't everything we just read and heard say the car was a donation to the school for After Prom? And where in any of the materials presented did anyone introduce "Odds On Promotions"?
The Boy and his date for After Prom

The second reaction to the email was to the part: "[we] did our best to create odds that were favorable to a student winning." You wanna know the actual odds? Thanks to a smart cookie I work with on a daily basis who did the math, the actual odds of winning were 1/46,656!

So, I ask you, is this a shame on me for misreading the notices well enough?  Or is this a shame on them for misleading parents and teens? Do you think they were just trying to boost the attendance at After Prom?







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