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Banishing Balloons, Bouquets, and Belly Dancers

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"It started with one or two singing telegrams," said Marvin G. O'Hare, assistant superintendent of schools in Dubuque, Iowa, "then it began to mushroom."

He was referring to a fad that has resulted in almost daily deliveries of balloons, bouquets, candy--and even a belly dancer--at one city high school, and which has mobilized the principals of other schools to recommend a districtwide policy on the matter.

Students at Hempstead High School began remembering one another's birthdays and special occasions this year with the services of a firm that specializes in such hand-delivered commemoratives.

But, as Donald Moody, the school's principal, told district officials last month, the harmless gesture soon grew to unmanageable proportions. His 1,800-student school was receiving between five and 10 surprise deliveries a week, he said.

Because of the general disruption the practice was causing, Mr. Moody has asked district officials to consider drafting a formal policy on the matter, making a distinction between the occasional delivery of balloons and flowers that might be used as part of school activities and the sometimes exotic surprises ordered up for individuals.

High-school principals in the area are scheduled to recommend such a policy to the school board next month--just in time for the poinsettia season.--kg

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