By offering high school dropouts free body-piercing for going back to school, a Sioux Falls, S.D., tattoo shop owner hopes that youths will learn from her mistake.
The idea came to Connie Storey after she had read in the local newspaper that Lincoln High School students were writing letters to dropouts, urging them to re-examine their decisions.
The 35-year-old, who co-owns the Tattoo Shoppe with her husband, made an offer to dropouts earlier this month: If they went back to school for a semester, maintained a C average, and had parental consent, she would give them a free piercing. But, she said, "I won't do the piercing until I see the report card."
Ms. Storey dropped out of school during the 10th grade and says that she still regrets not finishing high school.
In the 18,500-student district, the annual dropout rate is close to 6 percent. By 2000, district officials hope to bring it down to 4 percent or less, according to John J. Keegan, the superintendent of the Sioux Falls district. Mr. Keegan, who applauds her intention if not the specific method, says "For some students, this may be effective."
"I can't change everybody's mind," Ms. Storey said. "I just keep praying that some 16- or 17-year-old will decide to stay in school after that six months."
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers they weren't, but students at Fargo North High School in North Dakota gave it a whirl.
The school's Key Club and student council put on a "senior prom" for about 100 residents of the Bethany Nursing Home in Fargo this month. Although the students were a bit nervous at first, they were eager to learn and improved by the last dance.
About 30 students attended the dance in their prom gear, spending the evening dancing to the school's 20-member jazz band and chatting away with Bethany residents, most of whom were also dressed to impress.
"I think the residents enjoyed seeing the kids dressed up," said Shirley McCaslin, a counselor at the 900-student school and the student council adviser.
Students had a lesson in some traditional dances before the "prom." Still, there was some toe-stepping and teeth-gnashing.
"They tried to learn to waltz, two-step, and polka," Ms. McCaslin said. But students settled for "The Chicken" and a toned down "Bunny Hop."
--KAREN ABERCROMBIE & ADRIENNE D. COLES
Vol. 17, Issue 37, Page 3