UPDATED: Seven Recent Grads Arrested at Wakefield High

by Katie Pyzyk June 22, 2012 at 7:37 am 10,172 112 Comments

(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) Seven recent Wakefield High School (4901 S. Chesterfield Road) graduates were arrested at the school around 5:15 this morning.

Police were called after a security guard spotted individuals on the roof. During their investigation, police found that the four adults and three juveniles had climbed onto the roof via a pole on the outside of the school, and proceeded to drink beer on the roof.

The former students, who graduated on Wednesday, June 20, tried to flee the scene. One of the subjects attempted to resist arrest and engaged in a physical altercation with an officer. He was transported to the hospital with minor injuries, but has since been released back into police custody for questioning.

According to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, this incident has similarities to one last week on the second floor of the school, which resulted in vandalism.  K9 units were brought in to investigate today’s incident, but no vandalism was discovered. The former students are in custody speaking with detectives to see if they have information about last week’s incident. However, Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia says there was no vandalism last week, somebody simply set off a fire extinguisher.

“It’s just a poor decision on their behalf, to bring alcohol onto the school property and drink,” Sternbeck said. “They weren’t here to vandalize the property, they were just here to have a good time, but it was a poor decision making process.”

All the subjects will be charged with trespassing, and the adults will be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

“It’s an unfortunate incident,” said Bellavia. “They made a poor decision.”

It’s unclear if there will be any sort of punishment issued by APS. Bellavia said system officials will have to look into the incident, because the subjects are no longer students.

  • DarkHeart

    Hopefully just a few empty beers and cigarette butts on the roof.

  • SouthArlGuy

    Reminds me of when students stole the Bob’s Big Boy statue and placed it on the roof. And didn’t another class get a VW bug on the 2nd floor one year as well?

    • daniel

      exactly. Senior prank / youthful indiscretions…hope a night in jail does it for these kids.

      • Zip

        There is no way these kids should, or will, spend a night in jail.

        • Numbers Sense

          Underage drinking is an issue. Should be charged. Should be held accountable. Drinking at 5:15 a.m. indicates a problem so part of that should be a version of AA!

          • Zip

            My comment still stands.

          • Sam Walton

            Virginia Law begs to differ:

            Violators of the Underage Possession law (Va. Code 4.1-305) are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and, upon conviction, face (1) a mandatory minimum fine of $500.00 up to a maximum fine of $2,500 and/or 50 hours of community service, (2) and/or a year in jail, and (3) and can lose their driver’s license for 6 months up to a year.

          • Zip

            No, that supports what I said.

          • Resident

            Does not support what you said. Jail time is an option. And should be.

          • Zip

            They are not even being charged with that.

          • SteamboatWillie

            Jail time for 18-year-olds drinking? That’s insanity and that over the top mentality has helped cram our jails and prisons beyond workable capacity. If they had been smoking pot (oh the HORROR!) I suppose they should have been facing the death penalty, Oklahoma style.


          • Mary-Austin

            Jail time should be an option for underage drinking?

            Get a life!!

          • NorthArlingTim

            I agree with Zip and Mary-Austin.

          • Skeptical

            Drinking at 5:15 am indicates adolescence.

            Not something I did or would recommend as a high school graduation rite, but people I graduated high school with in the 1970’s did a lot of similar things and outgrew them. It’s getting a little ridiculous when one act by a still immature person is assumed to “indicate a problem.”

            Anyway, none of us know the people involved so whether they are habitual 5 a.m. drinkers or just did this because they were finally “free” (does anyone else remember what a prison school could feel like even to smart kids who liked their teachers?), it’s up to their parents and the law, depending on age and state of family relationship, to figure it out without our coaching.

          • New Canaan

            Yeah, the AA comment is idiotic. Let’s misdiagnose everyone and put them into rehab so they can be told, even if they have no substance abuse issue whatsoever, that denial of a problem is a symptom of their disease.

            These kids need to (and hopefully will) get dealt with by their parents. Or, we can just rely on the government to do everything and then we’ll all be driven to alcoholism.

          • Resident

            18 does not equal parents.
            Resisting arrest does not equal parents.
            Trespassing does not equal parents.
            And, if a link to previous incident, vandalism does not equal parents.

            And, by the way, the school system and county created a program to deal with the underage drinkers called second chance. 18 year olds and graduates are not eligible. So unless the kids have insurance a court ordered counseling program would be AA. That or the jail time… what would help them more? I would vote AA.

          • not your bro

            Man, I’m glad I’m not your kid!

          • NorthArlingTim

            no kidding, not my bro!

          • Resident

            The post is not one of opinion.

            Law in Virginia is clear about what happens when someone turns 18.

            Parental involvement is not an option. And, perhaps, those that want their own child turned over to them for trespassing, underage drinking, and resisting arrest, might want to rethink who they are keeping track of where their child is at 5:15 a.m.

        • drax

          Assaulting an officer and resisting arrest could get jail time though.

        • Anne C

          That is an irresponsible statement. Arlington students are forever being allowed to do things that students elsewhere are not; that is exactly the reason many have issues when they move on further. And as for the “will” part of your statement, money definitely talks, doesn’t it? As does the school system not wanting to seem like any student does anything wrong.

      • Newt

        Four were “adults” — doesn’t get bounced off juvie and handed off to parents as easily.

      • LaDiDa

        Or for life! Kids? Boii these “kids” should be treated as adults.

    • drax

      Those were more clever, creative pranks. This was just dumb.

      • Zip

        Not dumb, just not as creative.

      • MC 703

        So if it wasn’t dumb, then it was a smart move?

    • NorthArlingTim

      Yes. I work with the mother of one of them. 🙂

      • NorthArlingTim

        … of the class get a VW bug on the 2nd floor one year.

  • Sanbuttsky

    I heard there was a saying that goes “Wakefield grows it, Washington-Lee sells it, Yorktown buys it and HB Woodlawn raids their parents’ stash.” Is this twue?

    • lurker

      never heard it.

    • Peter Tosh

      No…..that’s just a verse in one of my songs

    • Arlingtoon

      Not in our family.

    • HB Woodlawn; lol so predator.

    • Mary-Austin

      I went to Wakefield and new people at the other schools and I can definitely say fewer kids at Wakefield are involved with drugs and even drinking despite its reputation as the “scary, ghetto” etc high school to many in North Arlington.

    • Sanbuttsky

      Holy moly, nobody really knows anything; they just project their Leave It To Beaver mindset on everyone and expect it to be law. That sucking sound is sticks diving deeper into the mud.

    • Sanbuttsky

      IOW, if you’re all fapping to throwing the book at teenage hooligans as if they raped your grandmother, the terrorists have won. FOBT Mayberry.

  • Sam

    “K9 units were brought in to investigate today’s incident, but no vandalism was discovered.” Man they are getting clever with K9 training. I remember when they were only used to find explosives, drugs, and people.

    • Anne C

      Since when does the school board allow K-9 units in the schools?

  • nunya

    ah Senioritis!

    • Westover

      They graduated already, they have been cured of senioritis. Just a good thing they did this after graduation or they would still be waiting on their diplomas.

      This is not even a senior prank, it was kids beening kids. 30 years ago it would be a total non-issue, as the 18 year olds could have legally had the beer. 25 years ago parents would have been called. If they had not run, it should not have escalated to the point of arrests.

  • John Fontain

    Hey Sternbeck – Have you brought any charges against the 3 vandals who trashed North Irving Street a few weeks back?

    • Ballston Resident

      I would like to know the answer to that as well.

  • curious george

    So is that an ACPD unmarked car parked in the crosswalk?

  • bobco85

    “…had climbed onto the roof via a pole on the outside of the school”

    So what were they planning on doing to get down after drinking said beers? Slide (or more likely fall) back down the pole?

    • Henry

      Right, because kids who climb onto school roofs to drink beer are known for thinking ahead.

  • Newt

    Four adults plus three juveniles does not equal eight graduates.

    • ArlForester

      It equals one person who should not have graduated.

      • RWarren

        It says they caught those on the roof. The eighth one probably got caught by the guard and never made it to the roof.

    • Westover

      Lots of folks graduate after their 18th birthday.

      • drax

        Look at it again, Westover, and recall the basic math you learned before you graduated.

  • Bk

    Don’t the seniors do a boat party after graduation? It’s one of those “safe” parties where students are checked before boarding. That’s probably why it was 5:15am they had all just gotten back from the boat.

    • Loocy

      No, that was Wednesday.

  • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

    youths these days. at least its not LSD?

  • Localresident

    The sad part is that these students will receive a slap in the wrist and nothing will be done about it thanks to the Wakefield administration. Principal is very soft on the students and and the director of counseling is incompetent. You may ask why bring up these individuals, that’s because they are the ones in charge of disciplinary actions in this school and nothing gets done witch such individuals. This is the reason why this school has such a bad reputation.

    • ArlForester

      Lighten up, Frances.

      • WeiQiang

        It is not possible to respond to that comment without being moderated.

    • Zip

      They have all graduated. School admin can not touch them.

      Schoooooooooool’s out for summer, yo!

    • Jon

      They graduated, what part of that didn’t you read?

    • Westover

      17 and 18 year olds drinking beer on the school roof does not give a school a bad reputation. Gangs and assults do. Let these kids go.

    • drax

      The courts have them, not the school. Duh.

    • SouthArlJD

      What the hell are you talking about? They were arrested and charged. Is that a slap on the wrist? This is a life-changing event, something which if it stays on their records will follow them for the rest of their lives affecting everything from admission to school to eligibility for employment and even to eligibility to join the military or public safety services. It’s drinking a few beers on top of a school, NOT knocking over a gas station. Are you pure? Did you never in your life EVER do anything which might have gotten you in trouble? Get some perspective, why don’t you?

    • WHSgrad

      HOLD UP. I’m a graduate of Wakefield this year and I can tell you that the principal AND Director of Counseling are GREAT at their job. With their help, I received a full-tuition scholarship to The College of William and Mary. I will defend Wakefield with my entire being. There’s no need for you to go on and say that it’s the administration’s fault. They are amazing at what they do! You don’t know Wakefield until you’ve experienced 4 years of it.
      The ONLY people at fault here are these kids that were complete IDIOTS.
      Sorry, but I’m not going to let anyone degrade Wakefield High School.

    • Anne C

      It’s a trickle-down effect; everyone involved with the schools thinks this way.


    Growing up our elementary school had some pipes leading up to the roof like that. It was very easy to scale them and get up there. Their fix was to put a chain link fence around it, which honestly just made it easier to get up to the roof. First rule of that stuff is to not get caught! DERPHERP

  • Prefontaine

    Way to go kids. Very smart.

    Why don’ you just drink in the park like every other teenager with no one where else to go?

  • tumblebum

    Just stupidity. Like all 17-18 yr olds. probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Now the one that decided to resist might have a bit of a problem. He visited the hospital so we’ll presume that lesson was learned but a judge could add to his misery on that issue. The rest may get a little community service and/or fine.

    • Prefontaine

      It’s up to the cop to charge him with Assault on Police Officer. I hope he doesn’t.

      The cop can charge with that based on literally any contact. It is a Felony with a mandatory 6 months in jail (with other “violent felons”)

      Back in the day, I saw a kid (also a recent hs grad) get charged with this for absolutely nothing. Totally screwed his life over. The cop also lied and said he was going for his gun.

  • South Awwlington

    ARLnow: What are their names. The names of the adults should be published.

    • Westover


      • Clarendon

        I’d like to hire them to climb up and fix my roof!

        • Westover


      • South Awwlington

        So we can attach a scarlet letter to their breast and shame them publicly of course.

        I want to see if it was the neighbor kids, running around, smoking ciggies under the bleachers and drinking in the cornfield.

  • Arlington Residence

    All of you guys responding in a negative way talk like you guys haven’t done anything in your youth just as stupid. That only difference is that they got caught and you didn’t.

    • b

      agreed, tho had several friends that were caught w/ stupid stuff like this and they were never arrested.

      at worse, thrown in the back of the police car and taken home… most of the time though the cops just made them pour out the beer or whatever and leave. somehow they all managed to become productive members of society – doctors, lawyers, federal workers, managing restaurants, etc. kids are kids… scare them and let ’em go. hopefully their names are never published or released for this.

      • Prefontaine

        Yeah, welcome to the the modern era. Drinking beers as a teenager equals months of expensive court ordered “alcohol classes’, probation, community service, etc.

        It’s insane.

      • SouthArlJD

        That was back in olden times. Nowadays the policy is to treat everyone as a criminal. I’ve even represented people caught sipping a beer at age 19 or 20 at a backyard barbecue, no drunkenness or bad behavior involved. There’s no rational relationship between the law, its enforcement, or whatever the hell its ultimate goal is supposed to be. We criminalize it. We make them go to counseling and impose license sanctions – even if the behavior had nothing to do with driving, and we act as if it is a terrible societal evil. Until their 21st birthday, that is.

    • South Awwlington

      lol, um er, wrong. I did plenty of stooopid $hit and had my name emblazoned in the local newspaper’s “Monitor” section. Hence my request above. When “adults” do dumb things, it gets printed.

    • drax

      No, most of us haven’t done anything this stupid, especially fighting with a police officer.

      • South Awwlington

        Well no, that is just plain dumb.

        Drinking under age, sure. Getting caught, no.

        Stealing a road sign, sure. Getting caught, yes.

        Multiple speeding tickets until I had a work only license, yes.

        Assaulting an officer, hell no.

    • Arlwhenver

      I didn’t have to do anything this stupid when I was 18 years old and recently graduated from high school because I could go into a bar and drink all I wanted.

      In any event, this seems like a rite of passage thing, a celebration of making it through. Let ’em all go with a warning. I mean, what’s the worst thing they could have done, discarded some empty beer cans and cigarette butts on the roof of a building that will get torn down next year anyhow? Arlington has way too many police with way too little to do.

      AA is for alchoholics. If you sent these kids to an AA meeting they will be laughed out of the joint. The kids (including young adults) aren’t addicted to anything other than coming up with a rather unique way of celebrating their graduation from high school.

  • Elmer

    Must be burning a hole in their pocket, spending their college student loan money so early.

  • WL Rulz

    I am Happy that the police got the drunks off the roof. Now can they please do something about the rest of the school. like arresting the Drug dealers, gang members, and pimps

  • students grandmother

    these are good kids. you people dont know what you are talking about. they make a mistake but nobody should care this is such a tiny thing compared to so much else wrong in the world. they are good kids and all should just be left alone. they have good jobs and made it through high school. we are just happy they are safe.

    • drax

      And so comes the defensive relative post, right on schedule.

    • South Awwlington

      Hopefully these kids are as “good” as the kids in the Greece School District in NY who made the bus monitor cry.

      Really cute.

      I am sick and tired of other people’s brats and even more sick and tired of parents who live in fear of their own kids.

    • South Awwlington

      “Made it through High School.”

      Now I am convinced this is satire.

    • Resident

      Good people who made the choice to underage drink, trespass, and resist arrest.

      Hope their other choices are better than these.

      • not your bro

        They’re teenagers, right? Your decision-making faculties are not fully mature at that point in your life. That’s biology, not opinion. As I read the article, they were all recent grads, including the “adults” who are over 18 – so, still teenagers.

        Your punitive and dour viewpoint is depressing.

  • amy

    Really Wakefield y do that on the school grounds. Messin up the schools rep!

  • outraged

    What do you mean “you people?!!!?”

  • MarceyRd

    LOL at the WTOP headline making sure to say they were drinking Coronas.

  • Debs

    So…IF they had gotten off the roof without being detected…how would they get home? Driving under the influence can lead to really bad things. My friend died due to this at the young age of 18…he wasn’t driving…but in the end…he is still dead. So, being caught may have saved a life or two…

  • SouthArlJD

    Well, this is the type of nonsense which happens when you tell 18 year olds they’re old enough to fight and die for this country, enter into contracts, get married, or go to adult jail if arrested, but when it comes to drinking they’re too immature and therefore we’re going to keep them from doing it until they’re 21. It’s a stupid, stupid, stupid policy and has contributed to the notion among older teens that there is something devastatingly attractive about drinking, even if it means you climb on the roof of a school because there’s no place where you can do it legitimately. Instead of accepting that the vast majority of people between the ages of 18 and 21 are going to drink – because they, too recognize the hypocrisy – we resort to silly laws which criminalize behavior which – miraculously – becomes all legal the day they turn 21, the day they can walk into an ABC store (under state control) and buy out the place with nary a word in opposition.

    • NorthArlingTim

      + 10000000

      • Aaron

        Drinking on the roof of their school suggests that they are in fact too immature to be drinking, and these particular individuals probably shouldn’t be allowed to enter into contracts, drive, or vote either.

        • SouthArlJD

          Drinking on the roof of their school indicates that they wanted to do something a little senior prankish because, you know, they just graduated. And here’s the problem: when you TELL people they’re too young to drink, while at the same time imposing on them all other obligations of adulthood, you’re sending a mixed message. You’re telling them that their adulthood isn’t real and they really still are kids. It’s not until they get zapped for doing childish things that they find out that in terms of punishment and consequence they are considered full adults. Who can blame them for embracing immaturity when we tell them that they really ARE too immature to drink, and who can blame them for not understanding the extreme hypocrisy which only makes them infants for the act but not the punishment? Look, either our 18 year olds ARE children and we should protect them accordingly and tell them that they’re not old enough to fight, or vote, or marry, or enter contracts, or they are young adults and should be allowed to learn how to do adult things such as drinking in an adult and responsible way. We as a nation cannot have it both ways. We can’t call them children on the one hand and adults on the other. Pick one.

          • Douglas Parker

            That’s to mature and pragmatic for this country sir, you are going to have to scale that intelligent factor back.

            How about a litte more cognitive dissonance peppered with some reactionary fear mongering?

          • SouthArlJD

            I’m on it like military on intelligence, thank you. Nothing says cognitive dissonance like absolute yet temporary prohibition of an otherwise completely acceptable activity (for the over-21s). And history teaches us that nothing works better than absolute prohibition! Look how well it’s worked with everything from teen abstinence programs to zero tolerance drug policy to the halcyon days of Prohibition in the 30s.

          • Skeptical

            +1,000… whatever.

  • JustCause

    Funny how the cop is the one that assulted.the kid not the other way around. These cops can be so corrupt and no one cares.

    • tumblebum

      I missed that part.

  • Hurley

    I never did this at WL, I always did it at cool high school parties…. That’s not true, I was never invited to those. I did it while sitting in my room crying whilst playing Madden 92 on Sega Genesis. 16 bit baby!

  • Douglas Parker

    To author, headline has a typo (‘Udated’).

    Love your work. Have a great weekend, thanks for all the Arlington News!

  • Wakefield Junior

    I know the kids who went on the roof. They’re honestly good kids. To all of these adults on this forum don’t sit there and pretend that you were not teenagers once upon a time. Yes, what they did was idiotic and stupid. Trust me,things like this happen so much and at ALL of the high schools. We’re teenagers. We make mistakes. We learn from them.

    • Resident

      Group of Yorktwon students were caught drinking not too long ago. Mixed 18 and 17 year olds who all went to court and all got a penalty albeit because of a police officer not following procedures exactly so were able to keep their licenses.

      For all but the fool who resisted arrest, the same should be done. And, yes, at least one will be enjoying some alcohol counseling before heading off to college. NEEDED counseling.

  • Jim Vandelly

    I taught at Wakefield (Government) for 28 years, and 5 more as a Senior Project consultant.

    First, how about letting the courts decide how to deal with these young people. Too many opinions. It’s beginning to sound like the sound-bites on the cable networks.

    Wakefield is a wonderful school in which I spent most of my adult life. Most of the opinions about the Wakefield environment are uninformed, and based on prejudices.

    Wakefield has always had a diverse and vibrant student body, and some of the best teachers I ever had the privilege of working with. If the tuition for enrolling my own children had not been so expensive for me, I would have been proud to have them attend Wakefield. As a Fairfax County resident, I just could not afford it.

    These kids who were on the roof will be dealt with by police and the courts. Let them do their jobs. They are professionals. And whatever the outcome, I’m quite sure that all the youngsters involved will learn an important life’s lesson, and straighten up.

    • Bert


    • Westover

      Why would you want your former students to have to deal with the law and the courts in the first place. Tell the kids’ parents, and let it go. This zero tolerance thing is getting out of hand. They were kids being kids.

  • Lisa Labella

    Yes, the amount of bad press given to this story is, unfortunately, typical. I respect the fact that charges are being filed and that a strong message is being sent by law enforcement and by the school administration that illegal and dangerous behavior won’t and can’t be tolerated. That said, Wakefield teachers and staff do amazing work with an extremely diverse population, meeting the divergent needs of a wide range of kids, cultures, traditions and ability levels. Even other county and public school employees slander the Wakefield community because they don’t even begin to “get” what goes on there. Why the greater Arlington community and media choose to turn a blind eye to similar infractions that occur north of Route 50 is beyond me, but it is my opinion that the true soul of Arlington, as the progressive, tolerant, neighborly town of days gone by, resides in the Wakefield community. How do I know? I have been a teacher at Wakefield for 14 years and wouldn’t have it any other way. Wake up, Arlington, and support this school and community that lovingly tends to so many of your citizens.

    • Proud Wakefield Parent-Class of ’09

      Absolutely! As a former Wakedfield parent I have to agree with you 100%! The school, teachers and students at Wakefield are truly one-of-a kind. My child attended Wakefield for four years & still goes back every Alumni Day to visit with friends & former teachers.This school is fantastic and has been nationally recognized in many ways. Why Arlington citizens don’t “get it” is a mystery to me. Thanks to the teachers and students that wrote to ArlNow defending the school and the administrators. It’s about time that folks stop disparaging Wakefield HS and realize just what a great job the entire Wakefield Community does to nurture and support the Arlington Citizens of tomorrow!


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