Is 19 too OLD for the prom?

9:03 AM, Apr 14, 2011   |    comments
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Wesley Chapel, Floirda - It's easy to see that Chris Kluender and Tiffany Gall are high school sweehearts.

The two finish each other's sentences and have an ease about them that is usually reserved for older couples. It's clear that this is for real.

"I didn't even have to ask her to the prom," Chris said with a smile. "We just knew we were going together."

The two have been together for more than two years.  They began their relationship at Wiregrass Ranch High School. She was a senior two years ago, and the couple went to her prom.

Now, it's his turn to take her. After all, it's a rite of passage.

There's only one problem: Tiffany is now 19 years old.  The school says she's too old to attend.

"I didn't think anything would be an issue, that it would come to this, but here we are," said Chris with a sigh. "I just want to take my girlfriend to the prom."

The former cheerleader who worked in the office, participated in student government and got good grades was shocked to hear the news.

"We tried to do this the right way, you know? We asked permission," said Tiffany. 

As the captain of both the baseball and golf teams, in addition to being the recent recipient of a Chamber of Commerce scholarship, Chris says he's not a troublemaker.

The 18-year-old just wants to have fun on the big night.

"It's not fair," he said.  "We're good kids.  We want to do the right thing."

Tiffany currently attends St. Leo Universtiry with a major in healthcare administration.  Chris also plans to attend St. Leo and is interested in sports management. They both feel their strong credentials, good grades and high morals should be enough to make an exception in this case.

As for the principal, Ray Bonti, he says rules are rules.

"If I have to make an exception for her, where does it stop?  We know they are good people, but I can't have adults at a high school dance," said Bonti.  "Parents trust me to take care of their kids. I can't have older adults there."

He went on to say, "We understand he is a great young man, and he can bring any one of the 2,100 other students to the prom."

But, that's not good enough for Chris. He only has eyes for one date and that's Tiffany.

They've received so much support that a Facebook page has been created in her honor by a friend. It's cleverly called, "Let Chris Kluender Bring His Girlfriend."

To see the Facebook page, you can visit here.

Chris' father was so upset by what happened that he quit his role of longtime booster for the school.

"This isn't right," he said. "They were trying to do the right thing by asking.  What is the problem?"

Chris and Tiffany won't miss the big night altogether. They plan to go to dinner with their friends and then hang out in Ybor City while waiting for the dance to end.  The prom is set to take place at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel on May 14th.

"If it's not fixed by this year, I'd like to see this fixed in the future, so it doesn't happen to anyone else. Because it's not fair," said Chris. 

Prom attendants for Wiregrass Ranch High School must be high school age or a 2010 high school graduate, according to school rules.

Wesley Chapel High School allows students who are up to 20 years old and have a clean record. 

A local business owner from Smoothie King has offered to buy their $100 tickets if they do attend the dance.

So far, Tiffany has borrowed a dress for the big event.

They are not giving up hope. 

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