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Prom Promises put principal in the pokey

May 22, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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Prom Promise

Police clicked handcuffs on North Hagerstown High School Principal David Reeder Thursday and hauled him away for an overnight stay in jail - all in the interest of a safe, alcohol-free prom.

Reeder is known as an open-minded principal who will go to great lengths to drive home a point to students.

Last year, he got up on the school roof as part of a student challenge.

But going to jail?

Freshman Stefan Bockstanz couldn't believe Reeder was doing it, although he said the stocky principal probably could defend himself against any unruly inmates.

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"He could probably take some of them out," Bockstanz said.

Reeder told students he would spend a night in the Washington County Detention Center if 60 percent of the school's 1,150 students signed a Prom Promise not to drink alcohol and drive on the night of the dance, held last Saturday at the Venice Inn.

Students overwhelmingly rose to the occasion when 963 of them signed the cards pledging not to drink and drive.

Thursday afternoon, Reeder lived up to his end of the deal when he let himself be led away by Washington County Sheriff's Deputies Doug Mullendore and Mark Knight.

A crowd of giggling students stared through the front window of the school office as deputies slapped the cuffs on Reeder.

"I hope you had plenty to eat," joked Mullendore.

The deputies led Reeder through the students and out to a squad car.

The deputies played the joke to the hilt, turning on their flashing blue lights and siren as they left the campus.

"That was really cool," said student Nickole Stevens.

Reeder said he wasn't worried about what he would face in jail Thursday night, although he made one provision: no roommates.

"I'm hoping I can pal around with the officers," Reeder said.

Besides, Reeder isn't a complete stranger to lockups. In 1986, Reeder helped run an education program at Roxbury Correctional Institution.

"I saw the good, bad and the ugly there," Reeder said.

Mary Jo Ashburn, adviser for the group Students Against Destructive Decisions, known as SADD, said some students probably signed the Prom Promise just to see Reeder go to jail.

But she believes a lot of them were inspired by motivational speaker Bobby Petrocelli, who addressed North High students on May 5.

Petrocelli, of Broken Arrow, Okla., recounted the story about how his wife was killed in 1985 when a drunken driver travelling at 70 mph plowed into the bedroom of their house, Ashburn said. The impact was so great that Petrocelli's wife was suffocated when she became wrapped in the mattress under the car, Ashburn said.

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