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15 students suspended after incident at prom
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Forsyth County News
Fifteen high school students have been disciplined after they reportedly showed up at West Forsyth's prom under the influence of alcohol.

Forsyth County Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said 14 of the students attend West and the other is a female student at Forsyth Central.

The group, which included male and female students in ninth through 12th grades, had apparently been drinking prior to the prom May 2 at the Hilton Atlanta/Marietta Hotel and Conference Center.

The West students were each suspended for three to seven days, Caracciolo said, though she could not confirm the disciplinary action taken against the Central student.

West Principal Richard Gill said the students, whose names have not been released, arrived late and their behavior and smell indicated they had been drinking alcohol.

“The administrative staff at West Forsyth High School immediately sequestered the students and interviewed them about their activities prior to the prom,” he said. “Upon investigation, we found that alcohol was involved.”

Caracciolo said the students’ parents were called to pick them up in Marietta.

Gill said West students participate in character-building activities throughout the year. About 450 students attended the prom.

“We don’t want to treat prom as if it was this one event where they needed to behave and act appropriately,” he said. “We have conversations with them throughout the year about appropriate behavior and, of course, we expect that at prom as we do at any activity.”

In an effort to prevent a similar incident during Central’s prom Saturday night, senior Samantha Handle organized a prayer session that morning at the school.

Her mother, Michelle Handle, said the teenager is strongly opposed to alcohol.

“This is something she felt led to do,” Handle said. “She had three friends get killed by drinking and driving, not on prom night, but two or three days before graduation a few years ago.”

Handle said more than 25 students and a school administrator were expected to attend the prayer session, which her daughter organized after attending the National Day of Prayer on Thursday.

“It’s just something she thinks is really necessary to do,” Handle said.

Central’s prom was scheduled to be held at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort in Braselton.

The incident at West's prom also has authorities cautioning parents and students about underage drinking.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Garrison said students are encouraged to have fun, but not drink alcohol.

“I would ask that parents please talk to their kids about not introducing alcohol to any events including the prom so that everybody has a safe and fun time,” Garrison said.

“Unfortunately, I’ve seen it in the past so many times where the decision of going out and getting drunk is made and in a split second their lives change. They either hurt or kill somebody or hurt themselves and it is just not worth it.”

E-mail Julie Arrigton at