Parents Concerned About Possible Teen Alcohol Use at Upcoming Beach-Week Bash

Nearly a year after a tragic drunk driving accident claimed the life of a Clarke County High School rising senior resulting in a conviction on manslaughter and drunk driving charges for the teen driving the vehicle and later led to the subsequent conviction of a Berryville woman for supplying alcohol to minors, a group of local teens and at least one adult appear determined to demonstrate their disregard for teen drinking laws.

A coalition of Clarke County parents believe that few lessons have been learned by a group of CCHS teens planning a beach-week fiesta in North Carolina soon after graduation. According to a letter provided to the Clarke Daily News from an ad-hoc coalition calling itself, “Concerned Parents of Clarke County,” an out-of-state beach house is being rented by local teens specifically so that alcohol can be consumed far from the watchful eyes of adults in Clarke County.

“Partying among Clarke County’s youth is still prevalent and has not disappeared; it has just gone now underground. In one specific case partying has not only gone underground, it has skipped south two states to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,” said a parent who claimed firsthand knowledge of the planned beach week party. “I confirmed today, the trip is still on, the realtor said the house location had changed, but they [the students] were being accommodated. The agent I spoke with stated there is still no ‘responsible parent’ that has signed for damages. I asked if the booking agency would allow occupancy without a parent’s signature, they responded with a ‘No’.”

The letter alleges that, “After graduation, Clarke County High School students are planning an alcohol bonanza at a ‘Party House’ located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In what is commonly referred to by Clarke County students as ‘beach week,’ June 19-25, this year’s mega-party was organized by one of the children of a Berryville citizen recently incarcerated after pleading guilty to charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Some folks have short memories when it comes to the consequences of irresponsibility it seems.”

The concerned parent coalition is also seeking to put local school and law enforcement officials on notice about the event stating that the letter serves, “as formal public notice to Clarke County Public School Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy and Clarke County Sheriff Anthony Roper. Dr. Murphy, Sheriff Roper, please reach out to your professional contacts in Myrtle Beach and send the message that underage kids can leave Clarke County but they can’t ignore the law. Your professional responsibility demands that you take action on this matter and you may just save a life in the process.”

In the year since the accident that claimed the life of 17-year-old Aaron Shirley, Clarke County has conducted an ongoing and public dialogue over how to deal locally with what has become a nationwide epidemic of destructive decisions by teenagers. Although Clarke County’s teen drinking discussion has ranged across a wide array of topics and solutions, and at times has been painful and uncomfortable, the result has been signs of change in the community’s tolerance for underage drinking.  In response to the outpouring of public sentiment, the past year has seen Clarke County education and law enforcement officials step up efforts to combat teen drinking.

Earlier in the year, administrators at Clarke County High School convened a student assembly where representatives from law enforcement, the courts and substance abuse counselors addressed students about the long-term consequences that can accompany underage decisions associated with alcohol, drugs and sex. Additionally, departing Clarke County High School principal Dr. John Werner recently joined the board of directors for CLEAN, a Winchester-based not-for-profit dedicated to helping teens avoid alcohol, drugs and sex. A Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter has been established at the high school.

From a policy perspective, the Clarke County School Board is currently revising its drug testing procedures, although school board officials are quick to acknowledge that after-school and weekend alcohol use are difficult to detect using conventional testing approaches.

Most recently, an after-prom party aimed at providing students with an alcohol-free  alternative to unsupervised activities was further testament to school officials and the community working together to address substance abuse by local teens

“I was very pleased with the support for the after prom celebration at the high school,” said one school official. “About 160 kids to start and 100 or so still there are 4:00 a.m.  A great idea, a lot of work, and a great result.”

Law enforcement activities aimed at reducing the availability of alcohol to minors have also increased. Sting operations conducted by the Clarke County Sheriff’s Department and Berryville Police netted several arrests and convictions at local establishments for selling alcohol to minors earlier in the year.

“Concerning who kids should call if they find themselves somewhere where they feel they are in danger, they can call the police,” said one local law enforcement official. “I understand that there can be a real reluctance to do this because of the stigma, but the alternative of doing nothing is not a good one. It is unfortunate that a child would be in a situation where they do not feel that they can call their parents, but there is legal standing for police action whenever a child ‘is in need of services.’ Any drinking of alcohol by underage folks is illegal, and the person who provides the alcohol to the minor also violates the law. Our office has a policy of arresting for violations of the law, and these cases of reported crimes are no different.”

But as the Clarke County community continues to become more vigilant toward underage drinking, it perhaps is not surprising that some teens, armed with a driver’s license and enabled by an adult willing to sign a beach-house lease, believe that the solution may be to simply move their parties farther from Clarke County. If so, the Concerned Parents of Clarke County warn that moving a party 400-miles away from home doesn’t mitigate the danger and risk for the young people involved.

“If you have a child traveling to this party house in to Myrtle Beach, be warned. The legal drinking age is 21, but even so, the rental management company for this property does not require a responsible adult to be there to oversee the safety of your child. Prior year attendees have attested to the plentiful supply of alcoholic beverages of all kinds,” the letter says. “If you are a responsible parent, stop your child from attending parties that alcohol and/or drugs are present. Call law enforcement if you suspect underage drinking and drug use. Law enforcement is obliged to check any calls of concerns (call anonymously if you prefer). Alert other parents of suspected illegal party locations, stress to your children that it’s OK to shun partying, peer pressure and adults that condone underage drinking. Most importantly, make the tragedy of last June the hitchpin of all your efforts in creating a safer community for our children. Together we can make a difference.”

 

Comments

  1. CC native says:

    No matter what anyone does, parties with alcohol will continue in this county. Yes, people get hurt, but that won’t stop anyone. And the sole purpose of beach week is not to get hammered. That might be one reason, but those guys just want to get away and hang out. There is nothing wrong with that.

  2. livein22611 says:

    Where are the parents of the kids??? Why don’t they care about their kids? Why is it everyone else’s responsibility to pick up the slack for these individuals? Yes, underage drinking needs to be reported. But it’s time parents step-up and take responsibility for their kids. Exactly what do they think is going to happen? And how many of them are sending their kids down their with a “supply” ready to go? Until parents learn how to parent there’s not a lot of hope. Grow up parents!

  3. justwondering says:

    Could CDN editor please cite the source of this comment please? Thank-you!

    “Concerning who kids should call if they find themselves somewhere where they feel they are in danger, they can call the police,” said one local law enforcement official. “I understand that there can be a real reluctance to do this because of the stigma, but the alternative of doing nothing is not a good one. It is unfortunate that a child would be in a situation where they do not feel that they can call their parents, but there is legal standing for police action whenever a child ‘is in need of services.’ Any drinking of alcohol by underage folks is illegal, and the person who provides the alcohol to the minor also violates the law. Our office has a policy of arresting for violations of the law, and these cases of reported crimes are no different.”

    CDN Editor: The source of this comment was a senior law enforcement official working in Clarke County.

    • Could CDN also publish the names of the people who signed for the house? It’s time that the bad people get ostracized rather than the good people who are trying to do the right thing.

      CDN Editor: CDN has not been provided with this information.

      • Smellin roses says:

        What good would that serve? While you certainly seem sincere in your aims, you can be sincere and yet still be in the wrong. God forbid you ever have a morality lapse and the truth be told on you…

        • Last time I checked, providing alcohol to a minor is not a “morality lapse”. It’s against the law. And yes, I do believe there are different levels of breaking the law if you want to get even more nit-picky about it.

  4. Travis Goodwin says:

    Yes, parents need to step up, because FAR too many of them coddle their kids – excuse bad behaviors, overlook illegal and/or dangerous one, or outright support them by being enablers and providers. However, it is up to the entire community to police ourselves. Nothing enables illicit behavior like the silence of neighbors.

  5. foreignobserver says:

    The moral majority strikes again…why not just make the county dry and be done with the alcohol problem. That worked in the 1920s right???

    Driving underage alcohol use underground is the worst possible scenario. Kids will drink, mitigation of consequences and education on abuse (not responsible use ) of alcohol is key. Are these parents going to also micromanage their children’s social activities in college and let the deans know that those alcoholic Clarke kids are coming to corrupt their prestigious academic institutions? C’mon now…

    • livein22611 says:

      “The moral majority….”-exactly what is wrong with having morals? You might want to try it sometime. These are KIDS we are talking about. Parents are legally responsible for them. This group of kids is not know for listening to the consequences and responding to the education. Does it appear they learned anything after the events of last summer? No. And I don’t think the underage drinking is underground here. We need to start holding parents to higher standards and throw the book at them for violating the law. What parent would be stupid enough to sign-off on this party anyway? Guess we’ll find out. And I worry more for the victim of the drunk driver than the driver. If you don’t “micro-manage” your KID then mine might end up dead. God help you then!

  6. Hey, I have an idea. Knowing what’s going to go on, maybe these ‘parents” could just tell their kids “No, you’re not going”. What a concept, huh?

    • John 8:7 says:

      There are NO PLANS FOR A PLANNED SENIOR CLASS TRIP GOING ANYWHERE THIS SUMMER! ALL OFFICIAL BEACH WEEK PLANS HAVE BEEN CANCELLED (CDN). Please check your resources before you post things you KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. It is amazing that you all are the same people I saw a year ago whining about this situation. Instead of whining please start channeling your energy into something more positive. Although your passion about the teen drinking situation is greatly appreciated, after a year, there is no proof that any of you “judges” have changed anything . You continue to hide behind your computers. Pathetic

  7. foreignobserver says:

    Parents can only do so much. Yes these are kids we are talking about, but some (many) are also 18 years of age and are legally responsible for their own actions. Most of the kids going on this so-called beach week will be 18 yrs of age or very close to it. The fact that parents have to write in to the school board to try and stop this senior trip is just ridiculous. Why tie in the school system to activities outside of the classroom?? That is not their job. This is what I am referring to when I talk of parental “micro-managing”.

    I DO AGREE with your statement that parents and others over the age of 21 that buy alcohol for those under 18 or host parties should be held fully responsible for their actions. But stop with the holier-than-thou attitude that overtakes this board every time an alcohol related story is posted.

    P.S.
    And i quote from above “Partying among Clarke County’s youth is still prevalent and has not disappeared; it has just gone now underground.”

    -This is the most accurate statement in the entire article. The answer to this underground phenomenon driven by overzealous parents is to increase education, stop treating underage drinking as a crime, and instead treat it as a health-related epidemic. Why put these kids on the fast-track to a life-long relationship with the court system before they even go to college?? Think people…

  8. Clarke 1 says:

    What do you think they should channel their energy into John 8:7? Since you are an apparent KID who didn’t learn a thing from a year ago? Please explain it to us!

  9. Curious says:

    Your ad-hoc coalition would have much more substance and meaning if you would put your name behind it. Why do you continue to pretend to be a support group but yet no one knows who you are? “Concerned Parents of Clarke County” how do you go about joining this group? Maybe, I’m a concerned parent that would like to join? Is this a secret coalition? It seems to me that you guys are trying to do the right things, but are afraid to put names/faces to your group.

    • Travis Goodwin says:

      I would think that someone @ CCHS could set you up with the group’s contact name and number. They’re speaking as a group; no need to be snarky.

    • Just curious. Why would you not put your name/face to your comment about anonymous comments?

  10. It’s nice to know that there are parents that do care. The only people that are upset about this are the ones that don’t care, and now we’re finding out who they are.

  11. Spongebob says:

    I haven’t posted a link to pics of underage activity in awhile. No worries people, if the kids are stupid enough to post them on FB, I’ll find them and share for all to see! 😀

    • This is what kills me about kids today. Some get on facebook or twitter or whatever and talk about what they are doing every second of the day, but then are truly shocked when word of something like this leaks out.

      I hope no one ever trusts them with national secrets

  12. Stonebroke says:

    If your so “concerned”, call the parents of the student’s that are involved. Tell them how you feel! I’m not sure if sending anonymous letters to the CDN is the answer.

  13. John 8:7 says:

    P.S. I had a HUGE part in canceling beach week although it was due to a foreclosure on the beach house, I think maybe the kids DID LEARN from last year and didn’t persue another house. All of you should speak for yourselves and your completely innocent kids and leave the rest of us (that you know nothing about) out of it. 4 the Love of God people…can we just move on????????

    • CCHS Parent says:

      How can we move on when PARENTS are STILL giving underage children alcohol at their houses? These parents should be ashamed of themselves. What would they do if someone got alcohol poisioning or better yet, another person got killed!! Maybe you ought to be preaching to the parents that think it is OK for these children to BREAK THE LAW!!

      • John 8:7 says:

        CHILDREN DO NOT COME WITH A 100% SATISFACTION GUARENTEE OR YOUR MONEY BACK.
        All parents have different views on how to raise children. Some believe in NO TOLERANCE and their children DO NOT partake. However there are parents that realize that their children are going to drink no matter what they say. Are those parents supposed to return those children for a full money refund? It doesn’t work that way. Each one of us is different whether it be the way we were raised or where we come from. (Parts of Europe don’t have a drinking age and if they do its at 15 and 16). People are not to be MOLDED …we are individuals to be unfolded into who we are. Parents are there to guide and protect, among other things. Very few parents DONT CARE about their kids. Do you know anyone who just doesn’t care whether their kids are fed or clothed or healthy or safe? I know no one like that. They just dont know what else to do. At the end of the day…they want their kids safe.

        Instead of starting your sentences with “You will not drink because……..” perhaps you should start with, “If you DO choose to drink here is what you should know…..” You might be amazed with your child’s response to this. I choose to BELIEVE in our young adults more than most of you. However it does seem that none of you have kids. Except for those of you who did THE PERFECT job of raising THE PERFECT INDIVIDUALS. You all are excused

        • CCHS Parent says:

          I will love my child no matter what they do amd I have told them that if it does happen that they are out and drink they better NEVER drive. They know to call, BUT I for one do not think that it is ok for CHILDREN to break the law, which is happening because underage drinking is being tolerated. If we allow them to do it now, how will they EVER be able to follow the laws when they are adults. We live in VA NOT Europe. If I want my child to experiment with alcohol, it is up to ME as a parent to let them do it NOT another parent.

        • livein22611 says:

          And kids aren’t born with a sense of entitlement and a lack of morals. They learn this from their parents/guardians. Underage drinking is against the law. Period. There is no exucse for breaking this law. Parents who allow this are pathetic. By the way, you say parents are there “to guide and protect”. How is allowing a child to drink protecting them? Do you really think that they will be making good decisions after they’ve had a few drinks? I think you need to excuse yourself.

          • John 8:7 says:

            I didnt say “allow” them to drink but as a smarter wiser older person, I’m not going to pretend that they don’t do it. If you want to be by their side 24-7 and run off to college with them to make sure THEY DONT DRINK then by all means …do so. You must have some insecurities about how they were raised from day one or something…I am confident as to what I have done with my kids up to this point. But I’m also not stupid enough to believe that they will do everything I tell them too. They know the consequences…I dont encourage it….I DONT ALLOW IT…and I also dont EXCUSE myself for issues I BELIEVE in.

            I am only speaking of my OWN children…NOT YOURS. I am in total agreement with you on that one

    • So if the house hadn’t been foreclosed, the party would still be on?

  14. makayla says:

    I graduated CCHS in 2009 and I planned a beach-week trip. There was NO alcohol involved and we had a great time. So please STOP assuming that they’re going just to drink. If you start accusing them of doing that, then they will most likely do so. Give them a little more credit, please. This town has become nothing but drama and whining. After the accident I have only seen 1 attempt of stoping underage drinking “Teen Awareness” and even that has seemed to fizzle and go away(so it seems). So instead of complaining all over the internet, why don’t you go out and see what you can do.

    • The problem is, some of your compadres decided they’d be cool and post pictures of one of the party’s down south on Facebook, so the community knows what probably goes on. Kudo’s for you and your group for acting like adults though

  15. Wheres the rope says:

    I agree kids shouldnt drink but you all have gone to far.
    What goes on in another state is none of ya’lls business. Bothering our town officials with a vacation home in another state is ridiculous and crazy. Worry about what your own kids do, if they’re not going who cares!

    • Lonnie Bishop says:

      Because, WTR, we are a community…and a community is supposed to look after its own. It’s my community’s rep that took a hit when that tragedy happened a year ago, because of some asinine choices by some drunk teens. It’s our community, and these are our kids. You might not give one whit about ’em, but there’s a lot of us here who do.

    • Yes, let’s just pawn the problem off on another state, that’ll fix it. Outta sight, outta mind eh? Well, until someone who’s had too many goes on a beer run