A Real Community Conversation

This Tuesday, the Staples PTA and Westport Library co-sponsor a “Conversation in the Community on Underage Drinking.”

The event (7:30 p.m., Bedford Middle School cafeteria) opens with John Dodig.  The Staples principal will describe the steps his high school has taken to reduce drinking before and during next weekend’s Homecoming football game.

The bulk of the meeting, though, involves an open discussion about kids and alcohol, in all areas of Westport life.  (Students are strongly encouraged to attend.)

Attendees will break into small groups to discuss areas of interest.  At the end of the evening, each group will summarize its conclusions for everyone.

If Tuesday is at all like previous forums, it should be an interesting evening.

It would be even more fascinating if someone steps up to the mic and asks questions like these:

  • The Homecoming game is scheduled for 10 a.m., in part to stop drinking beforehand.  How many students plan to drink afterward?  And how many parents know not only that their kids will drink then — but also exactly where?
  • How many parents had a cocktail or two after work — and before driving to Tuesday’s meeting — “just to unwind.”
  • How many students are willing to talk openly about their drinking habits — the “secret lives” few Westport adults are privy to?
  • How many parents actually want to hear about those secret lives from their own kids?

If we are to have a true “community conversation,” those are important questions to ask.

They’re even more important to answer.

26 responses to “A Real Community Conversation

  1. Not sure what’s up with that photo…after all, Jesse McCartney is not underage….

  2. “… scheduled for 10 a.m., in part to stop drinking beforehand.” If one follows that logic, why would anyone want lights for evening games?

  3. The Dude Abides

    I applaud the efforts of the PTA and Westport Library to open up a forum on underage drinking. But alcohol abuse among Staples kids dates back to the 50’s-60’s when it was legal to drink in New York at the age of eighteen. In my class of ’66, students were known to go to Vista or Port Chester for lunch and come back tipsy. So nothing has changed. Why? As a reformed boozer and sober for 24 years, I know full well know the perils of the bottle. Is drinking just a culturiological norm among the young?? Peer group pressure to drink? Or is it a result of the pressure cooker environment here in Westport to achieve??? Or are our kids so smothered with attention, structure and praise, that they fail to find a true reality and maturation???
    Whatever the cause, the trend continues. I witnessed the convertible full of drunks driving around town before last year’s Homecoming game. Sad.

  4. We need to lower the drinking age to 18.

    If you can get married, vote and fight for your country at the age of 18….you should be able to drink alcohol.

    Let’s raise the driving age to 18 while we are at it.

    • Princeton '82

      They tried lowering the drinking age to 18 in most states with diastrous results in traffic fatalities. The same rhetoric you cite gave us the vote in the 70’s at age 18. Less than 6% of the youth are expected to vote on November 2nd. Youth is wasted on the young.

  5. Thanks for clarification re photo. Reminds me that I came of age in the era when the drinking age changed constantly. I was legal for 30 days when I turned 18, then became illegal until I was 19. And eventually became illegal again and then legal again when I turned 21.

  6. Max Stampa-Brown

    Staples Students wake up before 7:30 in order to get ready for a regular school-day, they’ve been training us for these circumstances since the school start time changed….let’s reverse it make Homecoming begin at 7:30 and school at 10, problem solved!

  7. Dazed and Confused

    Max: They have made attempts to have high school kids begin at a later hour. Makes sense. But on Homecoming, if you stay up all night drinking, doesn’t an early game make it easier to keep the buzz???

  8. Max Stampa-Brown

    Well not if you’re a 14-18 year old who can’t handle their liquor, waking up to a striking hangover immobile from the 4 beers they indulged in this previous evening. Something tells me that’s enough to not want to go to a 7:30 game, but that’s not really my point I’m simply making a joke. I find it funny how PTA/P.Dodig/whoever is making these decisions, believe that the pre-game rituals hinge on the timing of the event following? Time is rarely going to matter in the situation, if students have a strong enough impetus to get wasted they will. I use the word ritual because of The Dudes comment up above, it’s been justified as somewhat of a tradition. My question is what is ever strong enough to break tradition?
    Either way I hope the class of 2011 has a ton of fun this homecoming, it’s an afternoon remembered.

  9. The Dude Abides

    Well, we lost 7 kids in my senior year to alcohol related deaths. Didn’t deter too many, including me. So perhaps, Max, it is a tradition. You guys are a lot smarter than my crew though. Your query is on point: what does it take to break tradition?

    • How about the police doing their job? They are 100% complicit in this Homecoming mess.

    • High Schooler in the '60s

      Dude, is that really true? Did 7 kids from Westport/Weston die in
      1965/66 due to alcohol related incidents?
      Maybe Dan Woog could weigh in here since he is generally in the know on matters such as this, though he’s younger than us. I like to think that Dan’s blog and the comments his postings generate are creating an excellent oral history of Westport from 1950 forward. (Imagine if Allen Raymond, Town Historian, had the Internet back in his day!). So if this is hyperbole or a rhetorical flourish that’s okay so long as it is identified as such. Maybe it is a fact—that’s okay too. I just don’t remember anything like that.
      And Dude, I don’t need the names—I’ll take your word on this.
      Just asking are you sure?

      • I don’t know for sure — but I do know that in the 1970s and ’80s there were far more alcohol-related automobile accidents by teenage drivers — and fatalities — than there are now. The designated driver and don’t-drive-drunk education programs have definitely paid off.

        Suicides are way down, too.

        Say what you will about today’s teenagers, but they are better educated about many things, making smarter decisions, accessing more resources, and asking for more help, than we did back in my day.

      • The Dude Abides

        Three in car related accidents, two killed themselves in the woods in Weston because she was pregnant and two jumped in front of trains. Alcohol invovled in all.

  10. I disagree. The Westport police may look the other way many times but are hardly “complicit” in teenagers drinking all night, driving around town in a caravan and passing out at the football game. That was the 100% responsiblity of the offenders. It is too easy to blame parents, police, the administration or whomever. Kids who text while they drive, drink to excess
    and endanger the lives of others need to be treated individually, on a case by case basis, with a strong hand by the proper authority.

    • Are you telling me the police don’t know about the caravan? It’s not like it is a big secret where the cars are headed. And it’s not like it’s a big secret where they gather to start. That’s being complicit. The responsibility lies first and foremost with the parents, but if you even suggest that parents in this town do their job you will be vilified.

  11. What I want to know is how many will STILL be drinking from the parties?

  12. Teens test all limits, drinking is one of many boundaries they push and this is normal. It is also normal for parents to punish/ground/reduce privileges when teens step over the line.
    Readers should be aware that the traditional caravan includes the practice of soliciting juniors who do NOT drink to drive the vehicles. I’d say that’s one message that this generation has taken to heart and has probably saved many lives – along with programs like Safe Rides.

  13. The Dude Abides

    Pop: So 17% have had near crashes/crashes while texting but they DON’T drive while drinking? I seriously doubt that. I hope you are right but I think safer cars, more strigent guidelines when first licensed and perhaps a greater awareness of the consequences are a limiting, but hardly a deterent, to drunk driving. I believe statistics on fatal accidents nationwide will aid my supposition.

  14. Pingback: Parents and Students Collaborate for Community Conversation on Teen Drinking | Inklings News | Staples High School | Westport, CT

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