by Abbi Berry
I slip away from the loud music that permeates the Large Gym and shuffle into the bathroom where I watch three underclassman girls crowd into a stall. I’m perplexed, but when I see their twisted faces stumble out, a sense of disappointment washes over me as I realize what they had just done. One of the girls pulls her tight dress down to hide the flask, and they giggle as they walk back to the dance floor. I don’t know if the laughter is because they got away with it or because they’re so far gone that overcrowding a bathroom is funny.
I make my way back to the middle of the dance floor, where I’m met with a hot puff of smoke in my face. As the humidity rises and my lungs burn, I start to feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable in my own high school’s gym.
I begin to realize these small instances are much more than that. Dilated pupils, flushed skin, and clouds of vape litter the gym atmosphere. Laughter follows the conversations: “Dude, are you okay?” “Ha ha I’m so…” high, drunk, stoned. Fill in the blank, because each could apply. I’m disheartened as I realize so many students at LGHS would compromise a school event, disrespect their teachers and peers, and not care to think that their illegal actions would affect those around them.
My argument is not meant to chastise students for using substances. I do not have a say over what my peers at LGHS choose to do on their own time, off school grounds; I have the choice to attend those types of events or not go. And I don’t need to bore students with the statistics of drug and alcohol abuse, because people who involve themselves with those substances are making that decision and should be competent enough to understand that they are running those risks. However, when it comes to a school event that is open to all students and on the neutral ground of the high school, it crosses a line. Those students who do not partake in illegal activities no longer have the choice to avoid it. By coming to Coro under the influence or with substances, students are forcing that environment on their peers and ruining the experience for everyone else.
Bringing substances or coming to a school event inebriated not only involuntarily subjects the student body to a negative experience, but it also disrespects LGHS staff. The LGHS faculty members take time out of their weekends to chaperone dances for their students. They are there to ensure the students’ safety and enjoyment. But when students come intoxicated to the dance that their teachers, coaches, or known members of the administration are attending as well, the faculty can take it personally. Teachers reported being shocked and disappointed that the students they have taught or currently teach would come to an event under the influence knowing their teachers would be there. LGHS staff members also feel responsible for all the students who feel their experience was disturbed by their peers’ choices.
This article is not simply meant to acknowledge those who felt upset by the substance abuse at Coro, but it is a call to both those students who brought drugs and alcohol and those who brushed it off as okay. When a single group of students brings a flask or a dab pen and uses it at a dance, the influence can be contagious. This minor decision controls the outlook of the event: students reflect on their night and recall seeing their drunk peers or watching their classmates smoke on the dance floor, and some can’t even remember. The majority of students have the decency to abstain from illegal activities during the dance, but for those who do not, those students are taking away from the experience for everyone else. This last Coro, the freshmen class experienced this widespread substance abuse as their first high school dance. I personally hold our school to a higher standard and hope LGHS students will too.
Bringing substances or coming inebriated to a school event is reprehensible. Whether it’s a sports game, dance, class, or a spirit rally, being intoxicated is never a viable option. I implore the students of LGHS to respect their teachers and stand up for the safety and comfort of their peers. End your complacency, think about your actions, and consider how your choices can affect those around you.
It takes a strong, independent and individual thinker to “not follow the crowd”. Abbi, I find your essay well-written and thought provoking. Anyone can be a “joiner” but where does it get you? I admire your back bone. How many realize the ramifications of their actions? Yes, it is an insult to your instructors and to your school negating all of their hard work instilling core values, knowledge and beliefs. Abbi, you are not simply taking up a chair at school but indeed individuating as you mature. I AM BEYOND PROUD.