Rap music blared through the center quad at Tracy High School on Tuesday afternoon while a handful of boys bounced through the crowd to show off their dance moves.
Principal Pat Anastasio and two security guards looked on.
"It’s very clear what our expectations are," Anastasio said. "We’ve never accepted inappropriate dancing."
The topic of dance moves has taken center stage at local high schools since more than 40 students were kicked out of a West High School dance 2½ weeks ago for sexually suggestive "freak dancing."
West High’s homecoming dance, originally set for Oct. 20, was canceled last week, though another dance will take place at a later date when stricter rules can be enforced. A new date hasn’t been set.
Administrators and students at Tracy and West high schools have talked the past few weeks about how to stop students from simulating sex at school dances, a problem folks from both schools say they deal with at each of their six dances throughout the school year.
But more chaperones monitor students at Tracy High dances than West High dances, and they remove fewer Tracy High students for inappropriate dancing.
"We have the same issues, it’s just not as large of a scale," activities coordinator Alayna Costa said. "If my kids dance inappropriately,
I ask the DJ to change the music, and that really helps."
Tracy High typically has 10 to 15 parents, five security guards and three administrators that watch students. They removed about 10 students from the Back to School Dance last month, out of about 250 students, said Tracy High Asistant Principal Jason Noll.
"We see it as a major thing that we can’t completely overcome," Anastasio said. "But we still have control."
He will hang signs on classroom doors this week — in time for Friday’s homecoming dance — to remind students that the school handbook states that students may not initiate any "overt sexual action" on campus.
At West High, Herman Calad says that in his 12 years as principal, students’ dance moves have become more risque, while their attitudes have grown more defiant.
"It’d be easy to turn our eyes away from this or just cancel dances," Calad said. "But I want to hold up the values of our school."
Five security guards and two administrators monitor students at West High dances, which draw as many as 300 students. More parents have volunteered to chaperone the next few dances since talk about what goes on at dances ignited recently among parents.
Calad, parents and students in the leadership class, which plans dances, have agreed other rules, too: a semi-formal dress code, pre-sold tickets, wrist bands to help monitor students and a system of warnings that will not allow students who are kicked out to attend the next dance. Students with more than 16 hours of Saturday school, a form of detention, will not be allowed to attend.
As at past dances, disc jockeys will not play music with strong language or sexual or violent nuances. Colored club lights will remain on.
"It’s what the entertainment industry has portrayed on our generation, so it’s what we do," said Tracy High senior Melissa Aries, who helps organize school dances with the leadership class. "Dancing has changed, but we need stricter rules to keep students in line."