Administrators attend community town hall on underage drinking

By Lily Friedman

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Graphic by Charlotte Alden

Graphic by Charlotte Alden

Administrators, parents and students from Whitman, BCC and Walter Johnson united for a town hall meeting Sept. 30 at Walter Johnson high school to discuss and condemn underage drinking. Because of upcoming homecoming dances, panelists and administrators alike stressed the importance of students making safe choices.

“It was a panel discussion with a number of speakers, including Dr. Goodwin,” Whitman assistant principal Rainer Kulenkampff said. “All of the panelists were essentially asking parents in attendance not to host parties or support underage drinking in the community.”

Panelists included Montgomery County Department of Health & Human Services prevention coordinator Ben Stevenson, NIH alcohol specialist Aaron White and Montgomery County police officer Jeremy Smalley.

Principal Alan Goodwin sent emails last year reminding parents of the consequences for knowingly permitting underage drinking, and Smalley reiterated the specific penalties; parents caught hosting teen parties face fees up to $2,500 per teenager in attendance and minors typically receive community service or required alcohol education classes, Smalley said.

Graphic by Charlotte Alden

Graphic by Charlotte Alden

“If it’s a party in the basement of the house and there’s a keg, all students are technically guilty of possession of alcohol because they knew or should have known that it was there and it was an illegal substance,” Smalley said.

Although the material wasn’t new, it’s still vital to restate because student safety is administration’s top priority, Kulenkampff said.

“It’s important to say before homecoming for obvious reasons,” Kulenkampff said. “We can’t overemphasize how dangerous underage drinking parties are for students.”

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