Beach Week meeting provides students, parents with more information


Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

By Abby Snyder

Local parents and Dewey Police officers held a meeting providing information about Beach Week for MCPS seniors and their parents at Walter Johnson Feb. 13.

Speakers included Georgine DeBord, the Juvenile Diversion Coordinator of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, Sgt. Clifford Dempsey and Officer Jason Lovins of the Dewey Police.

Every year before graduation, many seniors rent houses at Dewey Beach, Delaware or in other beach towns as a way to relax and have fun with their high school friends before heading off to college. Sometimes, this goes hand in hand with underage alcohol and drug use.

DeBord’s presentation focused mainly on the impact that choices made at Beach Week can have on a person’s life. She began by going over the different stages of a person’s life, from birth to retirement, and the happy occasions—weddings, babies and vacations, among others—that come at different ages. She closed by saying that one “bad, terrible” choice, like choosing to drink too much at Beach Week, could ruin someone’s chances at this happy life. She also noted that teenagers tend to think they’re invincible, but stressed that anyone can make decisions they’ll come to regret.

“Nobody intends for it to happen,” DeBord said. “But it does.”

Dempsey and Lovins focused more on their past experiences with Beach Week and the situations students are most likely to find themselves in. They mentioned the dangers of rip currents and pickpockets, but the majority of their presentations concentrated on what students should do if they should find themselves or a friend in danger because of alcohol or drugs, or how to act should they encounter the police. Sgt. Dempsey advised students to be polite to officers and to be as cooperative as possible with requests made by neighbors or by police.

“The Q&A was what really set it apart from other scare tactics that they usually use to inform us about Beach Week.  The cops were pretty honest and realistic.”

— senior Sophie Lieber

Common infractions for students include disorderly conduct, possession of alcohol and parking tickets, Sgt. Dempsey said. Officer Lovins added that police try to give students the benefit of the doubt as long as they are polite and compliant.

Senior Robbie Kraff appreciated the practical nature of Dempsey and Lovins’ speeches.

“It was reassuring to hear everything from a cop’s perspective and understand that they’re real people, too, and that they’re not just out to arrest all of us,” Kraff said.

After the presentations, students and parents were split up into separate Q&A sessions, the parents with Dempsey and the students with Lovins so that students had the opportunity to ask questions they wouldn’t feel comfortable asking in front of their parents.

The format and frankness of the student Q&A was a refreshing change of pace, senior Sophie Lieber said.

“The Q&A was what really set it apart from other scare tactics that they usually use to inform us about Beach Week,” Lieber said. “The cops were pretty honest and realistic.”