Eighth Graders Suspended for Drinking in School
In Mamaroneck, Hommocks Middle School officials and Town Police are reacting to an apparent incident of eighth graders drinking during lunch.
Wednesday, according to a letter sent home to parents, " an eighth grade student brought alcohol into school concealed in a water bottle. During lunchtime, she drank from the bottle, then passed the bottle around to other eighth grade students seated at the lunch table. A small number of students admitted taking a sip from the bottle; other students claim they merely sniffed the contents. One girl was subsequently rushed to the hospital via ambulance suffering from a case of alcohol poisoning. She is expected to make a complete recovery following medical treatment."
According to Hommocks Principal Seth Weitzman, the students involved were suspended from school for violating the District substance use policy. When they return, they will work with a specialized substance abuse counselor.
The Town of Mamaroneck Police Department will reportedly make referrals to the Larchmont Mamaroneck Community Counseling Center.
"While this is the first school time alcohol consumption case in my ten years as principal," Weitman wrote, "anonymous student responses to RADAR questionnaires have found that alcohol use increases during the middle school years."
Readers: Do you feel the school reacted appropriately? please comment below.
The 8th grader who brought the booze should be arrested for underage drinking. All of the students who participated should be banned for the year for all after school activities. If the punishment does not fit the crime, it will be repeated over and over again.
Agree with above. But also go after the parents, if in fact she acquired the alcohol from home.
The real crime here is the glorification of alcohol use and abuse. Watch any sports program, look at the glitz and glamor associated with drinking and partying. Look at the stunning commercials. The kids are being indoctrinated from the time they can watch TV and it goes from there. Tough to stop it but I suggest a clear and constant dialogue from the earliest age. Just a thought from my experiences. It’s not easy and in this era of technology the task is more than a bit daunting, but I think we as adults need to be more proactive.
I think the school acted appropriately. 8th grade is typically when kids starting experimenting; but I too have never heard of anyone actually bringing alcohol to school before. I don’t agree with David that we should go after the parents – other than to address the activities of their daughter. Does this incident warrant that every parent with underage children living in the home should lock up their liquor?
You americans should stop the prohbition on alcohol, the problem with alcohol drinking for teanagers and specially the bing drinking in colleges is because the kids never had a sip of wine like we do in the rest of the world. the never learn how to drin responsibly or in moderation. when you ban something or make it prohibited the kids will “die” for a dring, if you teach them moderation and have a sip of wine at dinner it wouldn’t be such a big deal.
wake up your policy is not working!
Bobo you clearly don’t know you’re talking about. You cannot jail someone for underage drinking, it is not a criminal offense. Underage drinking is a violation which results in a fine. The police also can alert the parents of what occurred. Although I think drinking in the 8th grade, especially during school, is not a good choice, people try to have too much control of other people’s lives. I started drinking when I was a freshman in high school and I currently attend one of the top universities in the country. Everyone needs to focus on their family and their friends and stop ridiculing people who are in situations that they clearly do not understand at all.
I never said that the students should be put in jail, but underage drinking is against the law. And they can be arrested for that violation. I am glad you agree that 8th graders drinking during school is not a great choice. As far as control over these students lives go, it sounds like they might need more control, not less after the stunt that was pulled. And if the students do not understand the situations they are in, it is up to others to let them know what is right and what is wrong.
Italian in Larchmont, if a parent wants to let their 12 or 13 year old drink in moderation at HOME, good luck. When that child brings booze to school, shares it with his/her friends, they have crossed the line. I highly doubt that 8th graders in Italy sit around the lunchroom drinking grappa with their peanut buter and jelly sandwiches.
I think the school took appropriate actions. This sort of thing happens every few years. When my older brother was in 8th grade one of his classmates brought beer to school. They got caught and got in trouble. Not sure if there were suspensions but parents were notified etc. 4 years later when I was in 8th grade at a class organized dinner in town alcohol was smuggled in and the waitress reported it to the school or a mother that came to pick someone up. Parents were notified etc. I think it is natural for children to experiment at that age. The punishment should not outweigh the crime. It is far worse for a child at that age to feel ostracized or marginalized by peers/parents of their peers than it is for them to make an error in judgement and take a sip of hooch. We have to remember that with our current laws a 14 year old is 4 years away from carrying an M16 in defense of our country in foreign lands but 7 years away from being able to order a beer at home.
I believe it is a virtue to start this at a young age. If they can master moderation and substance control now, it will not be an issue at the highschool.
The most disturbing aspect of this incident is not that 8th graders brought booze to school, but that this was the “first alcohol consumption case in [Dr. Weitzman’s] 10 years as principal.” Really? That simply does not comport with reality. Weitzman has either been asleep at the wheel for a long time, or has willfully shut his eyes to the ways of American teens. And neither possibility is acceptable in a school district as expensive for tax payers as this one.
My old school…
Really?? Go after the parents? Were you ever a teen? I just want to be clear on your stance regarding this matter, when YOU were a teen, you never did anything your parents didn’t know about?? You never broke school law, or any law for that matter?? Wow!! I would love to meet you and shake your and your parent’s hands for raising the perfect human being!!
PS Have you ever had “one to many as an adult and driven home?? No I guess not.”
Anyway back to the disturbing issue at hand. I know these kids and no they are not related to me, but they are albeit young, and in the wrong, and playing a very dangerous game, they are still kids/teens that experiment and mimic the adults that surround them.
I’m glad they are being punished and there are definitely deeper issues here, especially with the girl that brought it to school in the first place and ended up in hospital.
I wish the “punishment” was a little more severe than one or two days suspension. Some of these girls will have learned their lesson and hopefully stay away from this behavior in future, some will not, but growing up is a process, we all had challenges and issues to face to get us to adulthood, look at your old hs friends, some made it through and some did not. Welcome to human nature.
I have two kids in their mid-twenties, both Hommocks graduates. I clearly remember an incident when my oldest was in 9th grade at MHS and a group of then 8th graders were caught taking vodka in a water bottle on a class trip to DC. Hello, Wietzman, you think this is the first offense since the late 90’s??
Really, arrest the kid for underage drinking?? You guys do not know how things work do you? I totally agree with the Italian above. Teach the children modesty in your own home and this binge drinking will not be an issue. It’s not that we don’t have excesiveness in Europe too, but if you know that drinking is ok and normal it’s not such a “big” deal for these teenagers! We were all young I guess and we all did these things? This girl who took the alcohol to school obviously just doesn’t know that she’s setting a bad example to the younger kids. I think she should be tought a lesson about responsibility in a community. Then again most kids in this community don’t get any responsibility because there are so many rules they have to live by.
Zero tolerance doesn’t work.
June 18, 2003
Media Circus Over Teen Drinking: Good or Bad for the Community?
When ten eighth graders were suspended from Hommocks Middle School last week, who would have thought there would be so much media attention?
During the opening minutes of the graduation dance on June 6, one student walked into the dance inebriated and departed by ambulance almost immediately. Six others confessed to drinking varying amounts of alcohol â€“ some so little that the Assistant Principals detected no alcohol odor on their breaths. Two others admitted to smoking pot. Another student confessed to having sold, but not consumed, beer.
By all journalistic standards this was not a dramatic story: there were no serious injuries (as was the case last year when 17 year-old Robert Viscome from Harrison died in an alcohol-related incident); there were no dramatic numbers as when 200 students were drunk at a Scarsdale homecoming dance). Underage drinking is hardly a novelty: a survey taken last year showed over 20% of eight graders nationwide admitted to drinking in the thirty days preceding the survey.
Yet a week later, on June 13, the story appeared on the front page of the Journal News and in the New York metropolitan media, including print, radio and television. By that afternoon, six camera crews were circling the community.
So whatâ€™s going on? And is this good or bad?
The bad news: Itâ€™s certainly an embarrassment to the Hommocks School in particular, and the Mamaroneck School District in general, to be featured throughout Westchester and the New York City metropolitan area in this way. Somehow, when an unusually large number of Hommocks students make it into the All-County orchestra, the regional media avoid splashing the news across page one.
Misleading or inaccurate headlines and text do not help. Many of the recent reports failed to draw a distinction between â€œdrunkâ€ (only one child was clearly intoxicated) and â€œhad something to drink.â€ Some accounts also fudged on location, incorrectly placing the partying at the school or in Flint Park. That may not matter to the listeners in New Jersey, but it matters to the school and political leaders and to the police departments of the three municipalities who share responsibility for children in the Mamaroneck School District. Larchmont Board members are asking, â€œIf it happened in Flint Park, why didnâ€™t we know about it before the camera crews showed up on the soccer fields?â€
The better news: Nevertheless, the hyperactive media may be doing our district and the regional community a favor by treating underage drinking as a serious problem deserving of intense scrutiny and attention. People are no longer saying, â€œHo-hum, whatâ€™s news about kids trying a little hooch?â€
Instead County Executive Andy Spano and District Attorney Jeanine Pirro are holding seminars, coming up with new laws, and focusing attention on drinking at the middle school, as well as the high school level. The publicity draws support for school and community-based efforts to rein-in teen drinking in Mamaroneck and elsewhere.
Before the news hit the stands, Principal Seth Weitzman had seized the opportunity to call the eighth grade together for a discussion of the serious medical and legal consequences of substance use and abuse. It was one of those â€œteachable momentsâ€ that drive home lessons better than any canned curriculum. The following media blitz can only have served to reinforce the message: drinking is a big deal, with big, negative impacts.
The media circus might impress Mamaroneck school district teens that adults here care about underage drinking. In last yearâ€™s survey, when compared to peers from comparable communities, our teens were more likely to believe that adults tolerate adolescent alcohol use. Even if that impression were correct, the accompanying hoopla over the event might serve to decrease tolerance among parents who have been overlooking or even abetting teen drinking.
The bottom line: Inaccurate, overblown journalism is a disservice to subjects and readers of a story â€“ even if some good comes of it. And of course, parents shouldnâ€™t wait for a high-profile incident to prompt them into talking to their kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
This certainly is not the first case I have heard about, and my son has been out of the system for a decade. Underage alcohol consumption is “ILLEGAL.” What these children did also was “IN YOUR FACE ADMINISTRATION” as they laughed their way through lunch. Our community has had a problem with underage drinking for years.
Where did this child get the alochol? Clearly from home. Author Jay Mathews in his book “Class Struggle” writes about “OUR COMMUNITY” and our MHS student Keg Parties in the woods. What the kids see at home, is what they often mimic.
When my son was at the Hommocks, one girl consistently came to class drunk. My son went over to her and said “you know I like you much better when you are sober.” A few weeks later, she came over to my son and told him that she was going into “rehab” and thanked him for “caring enough to say something.” He was the only one that ever spoke to her about her problem. The teachers all ignored the issue. I am glad that the school is taking appropiate actions.
I think that some parents may be more alarmed that their child may have this on their academic record, and may affect college entrance than the kids actual drinking. Does the apple fall far from the tree?