Student Drinking Prompts Letter to Parents Following Football Game

by ARLnow.com November 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm 5,471 94 Comments

Apparently the anti-drinking video made by Yorktown High School students last month didn’t quite get the point across to everybody.

A letter sent to parents and students last week reveals that a number of students were caught under the influence of alcohol at the Yorktown/Washington-Lee football game on Friday, Nov. 4.

Dear Parents and Students:

We have had a large number of school activities this past fall season and want to begin by mentioning what has struck us most: the tremendous good will, good spirit and cooperation of our students who participated in and attended these events. We appreciate that, admire it, and thank you for it.

At the same time, when there is a problem, we want to address it. Several students in attendance at the football game this past Friday arrived under the influence of alcohol. Even if this were the case with only one student, it is unacceptable to all of us who work as supervisors at school activities. Knowing you are concerned about your own student’s health and those of all fellow students, I am sure that this is unacceptable to you, as well.

At school and school events, we will continue to stress the importance of healthy decision-making for all our students. We will continue to contact you if there are any incidents involving your child’s well-being. While we believe all high schools across the country have an important role in educating students about the dangers of alcohol, we also know that parents are crucial in working with us to ensure that students are safe and alcohol/drug free.

Parents, please make certain your children understand your clear expectations regarding the underage, illegal use of alcohol and other substances. Know who your student is associating with and where they are going before and after a school event. If your house will be unattended on an evening, make sure your child knows who can and cannot be in your home. Optimally, you may want to have someone else keep an eye on it. Do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call the parent of another student, if you have a question or need to express a concern. The bottom line is the same for all of us: we want to ensure the safety and health of every single Arlington Public School student.

Thanks to each of you — students and parents — for communicating openly and honestly about this issue. It is important we communicate the same message and help all students understand that we will hold all students accountable for any violations of underage use of alcohol (or any other illegal substance).


Dr. Raymond Pasi
Principal, Yorktown High School

Mr. Gregg Robertson
Principal, Washington-Lee High School

  • eric

    kids drink, we all did it, get over and stop ‘thinking about the children’ let’s just prevent drinking and driving. peace i’m outta here!


    • drax

      They have to pretend they care.

      • Wilbur

        The dont pretend. It’s a great school.

        • drax

          I mean they have to pretend they care about the drinking. Most of them were drinking in high school themselves. Most of us were.

          • A. Busch

            They care, they are hoping the kids learn from their mistakes. DUI deaths among High Schoolers in this area has drop a lot since the 1980’s when the anti-dui campaigns arrived in area schools. The zero tolerance rules have gotten a bit out of hand, but the campaign has saved many lives.

          • drax

            “The zero tolerance rules have gotten a bit out of hand, ”

            How can you say that?

          • A. Busch

            When you have kids denied access to their once in a lifetime experiance of H.S. graduation because an empty beer can was found in the bed of their truck, we have taken things too far. How can you say zero tolerance has NOT gone too far? Over the last few years it seems a better balance has begun to be struck, but there is a long way to go.

          • Tabby

            Agree with A. Busch. When kids get suspended for taking pills for menstrual cramps, something is very wrong.

    • Joe

      We didn’t “all” do it. Try making a sensible statement rather than claiming to speak for everyone.

      • Yorktown Boozer

        We all did. Those of us that were any fun. Glad to hear Yorktown is still fun, just walk home kids and stay off the crack.

        • Rory

          Only the cool kids drank, the rest of them either didn’t get invited to parties, have access to alcohol, or were too worried about their cross country practice the next morning.

  • novasteve

    Isn’t this good preparation for what they’ll be doing in college? Drinking before football games?

  • Newsy Mom

    Finally – bad news reported at a high school that ISN’T Wakefield!

    • Henry

      Bad news depending on your perspective–many would see this as “kids being kids”, as long as they didn’t drive or do anything else too terribly stupid while under the influence.

  • Wilbur

    A bit over stated. There was apparently one incident. One.

    When I was in high school, there were way more than one incident. After any HS football game, there would be beer cans littered all over the neighborhood and the school property. One of the impressive things about Arlington HSs—- you dont see the beer can litter. In fact, the only beer can litter I have found in the neighborhood shows up where Marymount students hang out.

    YTown won the first round of the playoffs and has a home game again this Friday. Why dont you come out and see the “problem.” I am amazed at the positive HS environment that exists at YTown (and frankly all of the Arlington schools). Last friday’s game was a lot of fun.

  • KARLington

    I’d hardly call this news at all. They *are* underage and teenage drinking results in plenty of stupidity, or should I say more than usual with kids, so I also hope they’re just drinking and walking. Given my own HS football game escapades in the 80s (such as our entire group of senior cheerleaders doing the last game of the season completely soused), I’m oddly relieved that some things really never do change.

  • Gummy

    Bet they were eating those vodka gummy bears…wtop posted the “how to” video a few weeks back…

    • Rick

      NBC ran a special about it too. Didn’t know people DIDN’T know about rummy bears…

  • DarkHeart
    • Rory

      Colbert did a hilarious take down of this kind of idiotic reporting.

      Can you imagine anyone doing this, let alone males? No, because no one does or would.


  • North A-Town Snob

    Sheesh, everything written in paragraph 4 is called “parenting”…if you need a letter from a school administrator to tell you to do those things then you have bigger issues. Now, all that said, my parents did all those things when I was in high school here in the late 80s and early 90s and we still managed to find alcohol and get drunk every Friday and Saturday night. It was a good warm up for college and I thought high school is supposed to prepare you for college. Whereas plenty of the people I knew who didn’t drink in high school went hard freshman year and failed out, myself and my friends managed to continue the party and succeed.

    • Carl

      Exactly. It’s not like the Yorktown Key Club did a talent show skit completely buzzed ever. Nope, never happened.

    • A. Busch

      “Parents, please make certain your children understand your clear expectations regarding the underage, illegal use of alcohol and other substances.” Unfortunately there are many parents out there with little to zero expectations to make clear to their kids on this subject. 🙁

      • dk


  • Gummy

    VODKA EYEballing

  • drax

    “Parents, please make certain your children understand your clear expectations regarding the underage, illegal use of alcohol and other substances.”

    They will.

    I might even buy it for them.

  • parent

    It is the parents! When my kids went to beach week, a parent drove a minivan full of liquor for the kids to the beach (without my knowledge). Parents serve the liquor after parties. It is the idiot parents.

    • drax

      You never once drank underaged.

      • A. Busch

        Sure did, but parental encouragement was not needed and only made the situation worse when other parents did encourage it. Part of growing up and learning to get along in life is learning how to get your contriband booze without getting caught or hurt. It is part of the game of life that we learn by.

        I can say, by the late 80’s it was probably easier to get pot than to buy for the average 16-17 year old in McLean/Arlington/Vienna.

  • soarlslacker

    Most high school kids drink. They are testing their boundries. As long as they are not drinking and driving and they are not falling down drunk, why is it a big deal? The legal age should be 18, not 21.

    • A. Busch

      And you know what, you give them a reasonable punishment to learn by when they are caught, and move on. Don’t excuse them, but don’t stick a scarlet A (for alcoholic) on their record either.

    • RJ

      If “most” kids do something, then it must be ok.

  • Rosslynite

    I was at this game and saw one young woman who was fairly well hammered and basically being dragged around by her friends until the police caught up with them. I am no stranger to conspicuous alcohol consumption, and even I thought this was pretty bad.

  • sleepyma

    2 of the girls were in 10th grade and one was a senior. The senior vomited all over herself and then tried to climb into the snack bar, where she passed out. She was removed on a stretcher and sent to the hospital. The other 2 were making a spectacle of themselves and were removed by police.

    Yeah, we all drank in high school, but most of us were smart enough not to do it to such a moronic degree on school property, in front of hundreds of people. As a parent, I appreciate the fact that the school alerted us (even though I already had the details from my own kid). They said what they needed to and covered their own butts surely, but how many people would have complained had there not been an explanation?

    • Lester

      Could you explain how the other two drunk teenage girls were making a spectacle of themselves? Please be as detailed and descriptive as you can.

  • dk

    It is simply inappropriate for anyone, of any age, to be falling down drunk in a public venue. And, I would submit that anyone who can be identified by strangers as “hammered” in public is well beyond the point of being able to make good decisions about anything (including whether or not to drive) and therefore is a threat to his/her own safety and that of others.

    I know the comments about preparing for college life were tongue-in-cheek, but it’s worth pointing out that age does matter, and not just because of legal status. The research on alcohol consumption is unequivocal: the earlier in life one starts drinking, the greater the impact on the brain long-term and the greater the likelihood of addiction. I am not under any illusions that I can prevent my teens from drinking, but I think it is worth trying (as outlined in paragraph 4 above) to at least delay what might be the inevitable. (Although it is not true that everyone drinks in high school–I didn’t.)

  • HP

    There were several kids caught drunk at this game! That girl was more than Hammered – she was taken by EMS to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. She will now be charge with Minor in Possession.

    • Thes

      Step 1: Make sure that no parent, teacher or other mature adult can be in the same room with a person under 21 who is drinking alcohol.

      Step 2: Make sure that no person under 21 intending to drink can safely confide in a parent, teacher or other mature adult about their to get advice, assistance or reduction of risk of harm.

      Step 3: Express shock and surprise that teens and young *adults* who consume alcohol are now doing it in a manner inconsistent with how responsible older adults consumer alcohol (e.g. secret drinking, binge drinking, etc.).

      Step 4: Become outraged and blame any adult who didn’t “crack down” enough on teen and young adult drinking.

      Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4.


      • drax

        Great post.

  • RJ

    It’s clear the problem of drinking among high school students won’t go away until the vast majority of parents don’t condone it. Based on the comments to this story, most of you don’t think it’s a big deal. Those people need to stop trying to be their kids’ friend and start being their parent. Let’s not kid ourselves: it’s not harmelss. Most high school kids aren’t looking to have a casual beer or glass of wine – they’re looking to get blasted. If you’re ok with your kid getting blasted, please refer to the friend vs. parent comment above. Oh, and prepare your kid to live with the consequences of his/her actions. Hopefully, they just get arrested instead of killing somebody.

    • dk


    • Rory

      Even vigilant parents can’t be everywhere. Not every kid who gets hammered has parents who are their ‘friends’, believe me.

      • A. Busch


  • Rhett

    Shocked. I am shocked.

  • Bystander

    I applaud Yorktown administrators for taking an active role. It is NOT the norm for “everyone” to drink in HS. It is dangerous, it is illegal, and it certainly would be unacceptable for the school to tolerate it on school grounds. I would never send my kid to a school that was “littered with beer cans.” I am a soon-to-be parent and this kind of active role administrators are taking makes me want to one day send my child to Yorktown. I am glad to see people taking some pride in their school and their children.

  • Roquer

    The kids of the parents that care, won’t be out drinking. The kids of the parents that could care less will be out drinking. Not much has changed since I was in W-L a number of years ago.

    • Rory

      Not true. My parents cared very much, but I still drank a lot. I also spent a lot of time grounded, which then forced me to sneak out.

      Idiots who get blotto drunk like this need to get in trouble as they obviously have no idea what they are doing and are potentially a danger to themselves.

  • Alex

    My kids and I loved the video and the lead singer is off the charts.

    • ArlDad

      What video?

  • wake up parents

    Just walk through Rock Springs park. Littered with Beer Bottles, condoms, and cigarette butts……..from Yorktown students.

    • Pragmatist

      How do you know they are from Yorktown students? Couldn’t they be from W-L students? O’Connell students? Langley students? Oakcrest students? Maybe they are Gonzaga students! They could even be from Marymount students! Maybe they are underage NVCC students!! Maybe they are from college students home on break! Maybe they aren’t from students at all, just people who for whatever reason aren’t comfortable partaking of beer, cigarettes, and sex in the privacy of their own homes!!

      I walk through Rock Springs park regularly, and while there is some litter, I wouldn’t say it is great enough to make any conclusion about anything. There isn’t that much litter, and what is there just reminds me that there are inconsiderate pigs everywhere.

  • Skeptical

    We didn’t “all drink in high school” — even those of us who enjoy alcohol now. Personally, I remember being very uncomfortable with peers who made a conspicuous effort to get hold of booze and consume it when we were all 15 or 16.

    I can’t see that there’s anything normal, or clever, about a young woman drinking until she upchucks and acts out in a publicly embarrassing way. Let’s not try to gloss over that sort of thing as normal, even if adolescent attempts to get hold of alcohol are unsurprising.

    We do need to grope towards a standard of sanity about this. In the UK, a 16 year old can order a half pint in a pub, with food, and with parents present. Here we pretend that people suddenly become able to handle alcohol when they reach the age of 21. It isn’t working real well, is it? We’re overdue for some real-life legal standards.

    • drax

      Yep – we need a learner’s permit for drinking just like with driving. Let younger people drink, a little, with parents to learn how to do it right and to learn that drinking to excess isn’t required to be an adult, so they are equipped to say “no thanks, I’ve had enough.”

      • dk

        On a practical level, nothing prevents parents from doing this with their own children in the privacy of their own home, if that’s the way they want to handle it.

        • Beth M

          Yes — parents can serve alcoholic beverages to their own children, in their own homes, as long as there is no driving or other activities that could be harmful associated with it.

          So if a parent feels that responsible, moderate drinking is best taught by serving wine at home meals, for example, nothing in the law prevents that.


      • A. Busch

        In the early eighties, Virginia did have a graduated drinking age. 18 for beer, 19 for wine, 21 of liquer. Then they went cold turkey and cut every thing off until 21, so kids just drove across the river to drink in Georgetown(no one risked going downtown at night in those days), and a bunch drove into trees on Rt29/Rt50 and the GW Parkway on their way home.

        • Lou

          I was right on the cusp of being grandfathered in for Va. Many of my friends made the cut, but I was stuck with only being able to go to Georgetown to get my drink on. Saloon, Annie’s, Winston’s, Pall Mall. Still kind of miss those places.

          • A. Busch

            And a couple years after you some kids made the grandfather cut off in DC, while others missed it by meer hours. I knew one girl who was born at 2am the day after the cut off birthday.

  • Nora

    I drank some in high school, but back then, the drinking age was 18. Times have changed a LOT since then. I don’t personally agree with the age 21 drinking laws; I think they have created a situation in which colleges cannot provide safe and sensible drinking venues and binge drinking has become the norm.

    However, there is a big difference between college and high school aged students. For high school students, alcohol use is much more dangerous than previously believed. Our knowledge of brain chemistry in adolescents has increased greatly, and the negative effects of alcohol use in the young can be life long. In addition, there are far more homes in which no parent is around during the afternoon than there was when I was an adolescent. That lack of parental supervision creates a great temptation, and the letter was a reminder to parents to be vigilant about monitoring those situations.

    A minor being taken to the hospital with alcohol poisoning, or a minor being taken into custody for public drunkenness is no joke. I appreciate that the principals decided to address the situation directly and remind parents of the need to make arrangements to supervise their kids, especially right before an event with a big build-up like this one.

    • high school student


      • Nora

        Sorry, dude.

  • mickey644

    Wakefield 1962: We drank at the games and did the horizontal mambo under the stands and never got a letter from the shool telling us to NOT do it. We did it in the dugout, school gym, under the stands, in cars, EVERYWHERE. Note to schools…..save the mail!

    • RJ

      Maybe your parents should’ve received a letter. Or maybe it wouldn’t have done any good anyway.

  • dk

    I too take issue with our drinking age–it makes no sense to me that an 18-year-old can go to war but not legally order a beer in a bar.

    But so much of our discussion of this issue is rooted in the false assumption that Europe, with its “more reasonable” drinking laws, has a better handle on teenage drinking than the US does. The research simply does not support this notion. On a per capita basis, alcohol consumption is much higher in Europe than in the US, and rates of alcohol abuse are as well. And then there is this interesting paragraph from the EU’s most recent report on alcohol use in Europe:

    [i] Much research has focused on the family of the young person, with a positive family environment being associated with a lowered probability of (risky) substance use (Beinart et al. 2002), including high levels of ‘parental communication’(Currie et al. 2000) and ‘parental awareness’ (Hibell et al.2004). While some family variables have a varying effect in different countries, a comparison of France and Britain found parental awareness was significantly related to drunkenness in both countries (Ledoux et al. 2002). In this context it is interesting to note that parents are more likely to always know where their child is on a Saturday night in southern and central Europe (up to two-thirds always knowing), and least likely to know in the Nordic countries (except Denmark) and the Baltic countries (Hibell et al. 2000). Parents can also impact on their underage) children’s’ drinking by supplying them with alcohol, with Swedish research suggesting this is associated with heavier, more frequent consumption and increased drunkenness (Lundborg 2002). Finally, living with a single parent or step-parent is also associated with an increased frequency of use of alcohol and of heavy drinking across Europe (Bjarnason et al. 2003). When both family dynamics and family structure are considered simultaneously, it appears that family dynamics are one pathway through which family structure affects substance use (Ledoux et al. 2002; Hibell et al. 2004).[/i]

    IOW, in spite of their more lax drinking policies, European countries see the same factors affecting teen drinking as the US does.

  • Clarendon

    Probably a slight majority of my 80’s high school class drank regularly by junior year, I among them. I’m curious about the ones that didn’t drink and have been out of high school for 30 or more years – when you get together with your high school buddies do you have stories to tell ? I don’t say it’s good or bad, but most of our memorable high school stories involve some drinking. Of course there’s always a few that don’t actually ‘remember’ the event.

    • dk

      Very interesting question!

      I went to a small high school (140 kids in my class) and was a pretty well-rounded student–in national honor society, student government, a captain of the field hockey & track teams, class president for 2 years. I thought of myself as well-liked and reasonably popular.

      However, it is true that I didn’t often participate in non-school night-time activities, because they so often revolved around drinking (which I had no interest in, and in fact which made me very uncomfortable). I had some good friends who were big partiers, but they mostly did their partying without me. So sometimes I did feel left out of things, but not enough to change my own behavior.

      Still, I *love* high school reunions; I feel a great deal of good-will towards my high school classmates (even ones I didn’t like much back then) and always like hearing about what is going on in their lives. On facebook I have reconnected with several old friends, by coincidence most of them big drinkers in high school, and we have no problem finding things to talk about. I actually like hearing their drinking stories, even as I make a mental note that I am going to parent my own teens exactly like my parents parented me so as to try to prevent my own kids from being involved in those kinds of escapades, LOL. I can say that almost without exception, my high school friends who did a lot of partying had parents who took a “kids will be kids” approach to teen drinking (or who just weren’t that involved in their kids’ lives). My friends who didn’t drink had parents who had different expectations, as mine did.

    • Nance

      I’m a bit older, and I went to a high school around here with a bit of a drinking reputation. I wasn’t a big drinker, but I did so on occasion, went to parites where drinking was going on, and we often went to bars in Georgetown, especially once I turned 18.

      That said, I’ve been to a few reunion type events, and I have to say that drinking stories aren’t at all what we talk about. Funny stories about teachers and events, yes. Maybe a few stories about this or that event when someone was being an idiot and booze had something to do with it, but I’d say that most of the stories had nothing to do with drinking. They just aren’t that interesting.

  • Mary King

    I was at this game, sitting in the stands on the Yorktown side when I saw a boy and girl walking in front of the spectators. At first, I thought they were disabled because of the way they were walking, then realized they were drunk. It was a girl and boy and they made a spectacle of themselves — staggering by, and the girl had her shirt so far up you could see her bra and her pants so far down you could see her thong underwear. They could hardly walk, and it was right in front of me when they stopped and a police officer escorted them somewhere (thus the view of the thong underwear.) There were many young elementary school kids in the stands, not to mention the grade eight band kids who were playing with the high school bands that night. The little kids in the stands were all shouting out “oh, they’re drunk, they’re drunk.” I was there because my child was one of the grade eight students playing with the high school band. I’m glad I was able to get my child and friend out of there without any of us witnessing more than what I saw.

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