Let Graduation Be the Beginning, Not the End

June 10, 2014 - 10:20am

Let graduation be the beginning, not the end.

I heard a story recently that might sound to some a broken record.

It’s a story that portends tragedy and a sudden awareness that change needs to happen. Parents of a grade 12 student hosted a celebration of graduates. It was a gathering that all looked forward to as one of many parties ending a lifetime of school. There was alcohol, a symbol signaling the onset of adulthood for many. There was laughter, fun and lots of free-flowing spirit. The mixing of stimulants and alcohol created highly impaired kids who felt alert and ready to take on the world. In fact, spirits were really high by the end of the party! I thought what a noble act this was, parents taking on the adult role to oversee and endorse good, clean fun. After all, these are still kids who were, until now, under the close supervision of teachers and school authorities. It was what I heard a day later that shocked me into the realization that not all parents are responsible.

Not all kids went home that night. Some had spent the night sprawled on the sofas and whatever space they had found in the living room, and it was a huge, luxurious room. That was fine, until I heard the part about one of the parents asking her daughter how she and her best friend got home. She said that she remembered dropping her friend off, but could not for the life of her remember how they got to that point and home. It was learned later that other students also drove home in high spirits. There was some good fortune or miracle in this story that nobody was hurt, killed, maimed for life, or charged with culpable homicide. Let’s consider the possibilities in the absence of good fortune.

There could have been accidents involving the intoxicated driver and others in the car, other innocent pedestrians and/ or drivers, and the numerous stolen lives of families of the hurt or dead. Let’s not forget the promising, otherwise caring student, who kills others and now has a criminal status.

In a sense, there could have been many deaths. It’s an event that needs to be analyzed so that similar situations do not end differently.

For one, the hosts could have collected the car keys of students as they entered. Secondly, hosts could have figured a way to monitor drinks consumed by students. Thirdly, the hosts should have arranged safe rides home and kept in touch with parents. I guess, it doesn’t hurt for hosts to remind students playfully at the outset about being safe.

Hopefully, students and parents reflected on safe outcomes and what could have gone awry the early hours of that after-party as they drove home.

For some students, this new experience of excessive alcohol-consumption would be a lesson for alcohol intake not to be an act of indulgence in the future, but rather an act of social responsibility. For what is the purpose of losing ones senses in overindulgence?

For some, the idea of feeling liberated and uninhibited might be just the start of spurning them on to a new series of ‘alcohol’ ventures that can only bring on a downward spiraling of brain potential. What a dismal future for many lives had anything gone wrong the early hours of that morning.

The words, ‘what if’ must be pre-empted in many such situations.

Let graduation be the beginning!

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