Brookwood after-prom party with governor a success

LAWRENCEVILLE - Not many teenagers have the chance to dance, joust, or belt out karaoke songs at the home of a major political leader. But following their prom this weekend, seniors at Brookwood High School did just that with Gov. Sonny Perdue.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Brookwood seniors celebrated with a huge after-prom party at the governor's mansion in Atlanta. It was part of an effort to promote safe driving and responsible behavior for teens on prom night.

The governor and his wife celebrated from when the first buses arrived at 1 a.m. until the last of them left at 4:15 a.m.

"Mary and I enjoyed providing these students with a fun and safe environment for their after-prom party," Perdue said. "It is very important that we stress to our young people to make good decisions and be responsible."

About 230 seniors attended the giant bash, which included both dinner and breakfast catered by Waffle House. After grabbing a snack, seniors could play video games, jump on inflatable obstacle courses and strap themselves in for a bungee run.

One of the most popular activities was a driving simulator that showed what it would be like to drive in adverse weather conditions after drinking heavily. There were also card games, raffle drawings and basketball. Under a large tent, seniors danced to music provided by the Q100 Party Crew.

"This was obviously a huge success. The students and the guests that were there looked like they had a great time," said Shane Hix, spokesman for the governor's office.

Brookwood students seemed to agree. Senior Jeff Lynch scoffed at his classmates who opted for other parties. Of the 300 guests who could have attended, 230 showed.

"This is a crazy night. That's better than all that other stuff," Lynch said.

The Gwinnett County high school was selected for the honor because of its history of promoting safe choices for its students. For example, many seniors participate in "Project Graduation." Like the after-prom party, the event provides late-night entertainment to discourage celebrating in unsafe ways. Seniors who sign up are locked in at the Lawrenceville YMCA from 11 p.m. on their graduation night until the following morning.

"I think it is very similar in concept," Principal Jane Stegall said. "To me, the idea of both is for us as adults to teach young people that there are ways to enjoy themselves without indulging in these dangerous behaviors."

The week leading up to Spring Break, the school holds the Brookwood Rallies Against Trouble (BRAT) program to highlight how to make good decisions about drugs, alcohol and teen pregnancy. This year, in an assembly, they heard from a Brookwood student and a family who were tragically affected by drunk driving.

Organizers and school administrators said the event was extremely successful, but they weren't sure if the governor's mansion would be hosting another after-prom party next year. Many local organizations, including Georgia Power, Coca-Cola and the Atlanta Braves, Hawks and Thrashers, sponsored and contributed to the event.

"I think the kids were very pleasantly surprised," Stegall said. "I think they had a good time. The governor's office did a great job of planning a bunch of activities for the students."

- The Associated Press contributed to this article.