Archive for Saturday, January 16, 2010

Party planners face sobering decision: Whether to test students for alcohol

Parents in charge of Project Graduation are considering requiring alcohol breath tests before the annual graduation party. Some parents feel it will send a negative message and deter students from attending.

January 16, 2010, 12:00 a.m. Updated January 16, 2010, 7:04 p.m.


High school parents are grappling over whether senior students should be tested for alcohol as they enter this year’s post-graduation party.

“A lot of parents feel like if we do the Breathalyzers, maybe all of the seniors won’t attend,” said Lisa Werner, a Free State High School parent who is helping organize Project Graduation. “Of course, we want as many kids that can to attend.”

“It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a teen drinker,” said Anna Callan, parent and co-chair of the event. “If you want to come to our party, you have to come sober.”

The annual party, for graduating seniors at all four public and private high schools in Lawrence, is thrown by volunteer parents and will be May 23 at Abe & Jake’s Landing, 8 E. Sixth St. Prizes, dances, games and food are provided at the party, which is intended to give students a safe place to celebrate their graduation drug- and alcohol-free.

Parent organizers said they’re having an important debate and researching the issue before deciding whether seniors will have to prove their sobriety ahead of the party.

“We’re trying to create an environment that is safe for the children, yet they’re trying to break the rules, so by doing this enforcing we’re creating this lack of attendance,” said Debbie McCarthy, a parent. “We’re darned if we do and we’re darned if we don’t.”

Some parents said there’s been a resistance to the alcohol tests from students, after a policy was adopted by the Lawrence school district in 2005 that requires Breathalyzers to be given at all school dances. Project Graduation is not a school-sponsored event and does not fall under the same restrictions.

But others said students have grown accustomed to them and if they know about the tests, they won’t make plans to get drunk before coming.

There are also concerns about the expense of the Breathalyzer machines, whether using them would hold up the line to get into the party, and whether there would be any liabilities that come with using or not using the machines.

Some parents have suggested the idea of testing students on their way out of the bar, so that students don’t drive home intoxicated if they do find a way to cheat the system.


Zachary Stoltenberg 8 years, 3 months ago

I'm just wondering how many of these parents were drunk at their own Prom. Lay off these teenagers, you can't expect them to act like adults when you treat them like kids. Drinking is a choice. I think most of them are capable of making that choice. What are all these busybody parents going to do six months from now when Suzy senior is away at college? Insist that she take a breathylizer? What changes in the next six months that suddenly makes them capable of making a descision to drink or not drink?

introversion 8 years, 3 months ago

This sounds like an issue of liability to me. If I were planning this event, I'd much rather let everyone come regardless of their potential level of intoxication. In these litigious times, can you imagine what would happen if a student was breathalyzed, found to be drunk and turned away? Then what? do they get in their car and drive somewhere else?

Suppose this happens, and they kill themselves or someone else, and the people at the prom party knew the kid was drunk... lawsuit?

cms 8 years, 3 months ago

My first thought was exactly the same as zstoltenberg. What? Parents want to keep their children from having the same fun that seniors have been experiencing for years and years, which likely includes themselves as seniors? Children will rise to the level of expectation. Plan a party so darned fun that the seniors will want to attend, will choose not to drink to get in, and as a result have made the decision sought after by all. Also have SafeRide available to take those kids home that arrive having had too much to drink. Don't penalize the others for the actions of few. Group discipline has never worked.

Centerville 8 years, 3 months ago

When the co-chair says, "it doesn't matter if you're a teen drinker", then what's the big deal?

Zachary Stoltenberg 8 years, 3 months ago

Sorry cheese, I just give these kids a lot more credit than you do. I was there, in their position, not that long ago. Probably a lot more recently than you anyway. I just refuse to think that threatening them with breathalyzers is going to help them make a responsible decision. I think CMS hit it right on the head. Encourage them to make a better decisions. In my experience, when you expect more from these kids, they usually rise to the occasion. Give them the chance to make the right decision instead of threatening them to not make the wrong one.

maxcrabb 8 years, 3 months ago

How bad do you want that used car, kids?!?

Steve Miller 8 years, 3 months ago

You are all looking at it the wrong way, the breathilizer is for the parents that fear they reared their child to get drunk. it's nothign to do with the student and if he or she drinks or not. . it's a mind concious thing on the parents part. Think outside the bun.

funkdog1 8 years, 3 months ago

cheeseburger: sure, not everyone in high school drinks. just like not everyone in high school has sex. but to pretend that high schoolers engage in neither at extremely high rates is just silly. kids shouldn't be sneaking bottles into the party for sure, but drunk kids should NOT be turned away from a safe environment. that's irresponsible on the part of adults.

maxcrabb 8 years, 3 months ago

Cheeseburger, I'd hate for you to think I agree with you.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

*If kids show up somewhat intoxicated by all means allow them in rather than put them on the streets where they might become involved in an accident where serious injuries could occur.

*Advise them after entering, the party sponsors will provide a safe ride HOME however they cannot continue drinking on the premises otherwise Abe and Jakes might be held liable and YOU the sponsors. Let them in to dance and have fun.

*If they are too loaded I guess Mom and Dad or siblings get a call.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

OR poll the parents as to how they want the situation handled advising that party sponsors aka parents cannot allow young adults aka teens to drive after attending the party.

May as well be real about this situation.

Paula Kissinger 8 years, 3 months ago

I kept reading through the comments, waiting for someone to bring up the obvious comment...knock yourselves out with the won't detect the drugs in these kids' systems. I, as the parent of a kid who plans on attending this party, know and know of a lot more kids that smoke pot than drink; not mine, by the way. And why not ? It's plentifully available at school and alcohol is harder to buy. Concern about drinking is warranted but, sad to say, these parents are obviously back-in-the-day...that coming from someone who is most likely older than them, but has managed to "keep up" with the changes.

funkdog1 8 years, 3 months ago

You're right, PitBull. I've said it before and I'll say it again:This town is awash in pot. (Thank goodness.) But I'd be far more leery of drunk teenagers driving that pot-high teenagers driving.

Escapee 8 years, 3 months ago

What idiots you people are! You have a problem -- the kids in Lawrence drink. Way too much. Why should the 'good kids' always suffer the burden of having the 'bad kids' crash their party??? Test them. Test them all. It's only fair for the rest of the kids....

audibleangel 8 years, 3 months ago

Will there be mouth swabbing for cannabinoids as well? Hahaha. I just find it amusing that they hold this celebration at a bar... and expect it to be a dry evening. At our Project Graduation I remember very well (sober, obviously) a group of kids finding the spot where all the liquor was kept and getting smashed while the 'sober party' occurred.

cheeseburger's comments... its like reading the virgin suicides all over again.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

If someone shows up loaded on alcohol maybe there will be friend at the dance who is not that would be willing to be a designated safe driver.

There are plenty of options. Some tolerance can also be helpful.

Maybe parents can talk up one or two drinks might be okay.

Parents can share info such as hang overs are painful and last all day. Throwing up is simply not fun. Hangovers and throwing up is simply awful. Will all of this be worth it for one evening..... No.

funkdog1 8 years, 3 months ago

Escapee - That's right. We're idiots. Just like you're smart about teenage drinking and Sara Palin is smart about teenage pregnancy.

tomatogrower 8 years, 3 months ago

If your student wants to get drunk illegally to celebrate their graduation, then buy them a keg and have the party at your house. You might ask what is wrong in your kids life that they can only have fun if they are drunk. Maybe your life too.

budwhysir 8 years, 3 months ago

Not sure why we even try to have guidelines or rules in this town. Afraid some might not attend if you conduct a test? why, do they have something to hide??? they do??? is that the reason for the test>?????? to find someone breaking the rules?????

innocent till proven guilty wait no thats not it proven innocent cause we dont want to hurt yer feelings or make you go somewhere you can break the rules???? yep that is it

tomatogrower 8 years, 3 months ago

Abe and Jake's Landing can be rented for events that don't allow alcohol. They just close the bar down. It accommodates many people and has a sound system for the music.

Escapee 8 years, 3 months ago

Idiots, yes.

It's supposed to be an 'alcohol free party'!! What don't you get about that??? If they want to drink, go someplace else. But don't ruin it for the kids who follow directions....

The parents in this town are obviously the real problem....

They simply don't care if the kids drink to excess, and they probably haven't a clue as to how to begin teaching them not to. This is the REAL problem....

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

One of the best ways to minimize the symptoms of a hangover — headaches, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, dehydration, and body aches — is to practice some prevention before, and during, your drinking episodes. Here are some popular tips on how to do just that:

Drink for the right reasons. Social occasions and celebrations are pretty good reasons for having a drink. Reducing stress, releasing anger, or trying to prove something to someone are unhealthy motivations for alcohol consumption and may actually quicken the intoxication process and increase nasty side effects.

Hold that line. You're probably familiar with your tolerance of alcoholic beverages (the point when the alcohol you've consumed begins to cause noticeable physical and psychological changes). Crossing your line can easily send you into hangover land the next morning. Challenge yourself to hold that line — set and state a drink max before you go out — your body and friends will thank you tomorrow.

Pace yourself. Hangover helpers and healthy drinkers recommend one drink per hour as a guide. This rate gives your body a chance to process the alcohol without sending it special delivery to your head. Try to limit yourself to three or four drinks in a 24-hour period and not more than once or twice a week.

Mix, not! Avoid alternating the types of alcohol you consume. If you begin with beer, stick with beer. Starting with Scotch? Stay with Scotch, and so on. For many, downing different kinds of drinks leads to hellatious headaches and sick stomachs. It's challenging enough for your body to react to one variety of alcohol, so why give it a harder time with two, three, or four?

Consider the congeners. Congeners are natural by-products of alcohol fermentation. The higher the congener content, the greater the hangover. Gin and vodka have the fewest congeners, while bourbon and red wine claim the most.

Chow down. Eat a substantial meal before you go out to a party or bar. Bread products and foods high in protein, like milk and cheese, slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream by coating your stomach and small intestine. Nibbling on finger foods throughout the night can also slow the intoxication process.

Alternate. Start your partying with some food, then have a beer, then down some water or juice, then have another beer (remember to pace yourself along the way). Don't switch off with carbonated drinks — they can speed up intoxication and heighten hangovers.

Sip or sink. Drink each alcoholic beverage slowly. Remember, your liver can only handle about one serving of alcohol an hour (i.e., 12 oz. beer, 4-5 oz. of wine, or 1-1.5 oz. of hard liquor). Rapid consumption of alcohol via shots, funnels, and drinking games are sure to win you a big hangover.

Have another drink... of water. Alcohol is a diuretic. Drink plenty of water during and after alcohol use to ward off dehydration, headaches, and achiness.

Susan Lee 8 years, 3 months ago

I am appalled - but certainly not surprised - at the permissive attitudes toward underage drinking. No wonder so many of our youth end up dying in alcohol-related accidents; not to mention the overdoses and date rapes.

I live several hours away, on a wide boulevard in the "historic district" of our town. All of my life, my street was the main drag. About 15 years ago, the teen presence on the weekends began to diminish. Each year there are fewer and fewer cruisers, until now it is only on the first and last day of school. Wny? Because parents supply alochol for home parties. I understand that the major source of teen alcohol is now the parents of the teens. It is a sad world out there....

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