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Cyber Students Prohibited From Prom

UPDATE: On Wednesday, the superintendent announced the students would be allowed to attend prom. HAZLETON — It’s prom season, and thousands of high ...
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UPDATE: On Wednesday, the superintendent announced the students would be allowed to attend prom.

HAZLETON -- It's prom season, and thousands of high school students in our area are preparing for the big day, but two seniors from the Hazleton area say they feel robbed of the chance to go to prom.

The two students say if they had disciplinary or academic issues, they would understand not being able to go to prom, but they are being blocked from the experience because they go to school online, even though the Hazleton Area School District's policy allows cyber students to participate in the district's extracurricular activities.

Austin Sterenchock is a proud high school senior, getting ready to graduate, and like most, the teen from West Hazleton has been looking forward to the last hurrah: prom.

"It's a once in a lifetime thing."

Before he commits to serving his country in the National Guard, he was hoping to share the prom experience with his fiancée, who's also a high school senior in the Hazleton area.

"I kind of wanted to treat her to something nice, and get all dressed up and actually get to dance and hang out and have a good time before I go to training," Sterenchock said.

But Sterenchock and his fiancée take their classes through a cyber charter school.

"The high school has a standard practice that the student must be of the Hazleton Area School District to attend the prom," said Hazleton Area Superintendent Craig Butler.

That practice is confusing to some because the Hazleton Area School District's own policy says charter school and cyber charter students shall be given an equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities.

"The way we interpret it as, is that we do not have a total and complete obligation to allow those students to attend our social functions," said Butler.

The school superintendent says the district isn't comfortable with outside students it isn't familiar with.

Many Hazleton Area High School students don't agree with the district not allowing cyber charter school students from going to prom, especially when half of the 800 people attending prom are dates anyway.

"Some of those kids have reasons why they cyber school, whether it's health problems or social problems," said senior Sarah Strassner. "That is dumb to penalize them because they made that choice."

"I feel like I am being penalized because they are holding me back from something you can only experience one time," Sterenchock added.

Hazleton Area's prom is this Friday, so both of those seniors aren't sure if the district will change its mind in time for them to be able to go. They are hoping to get the practice changed for future cyber students.