Community can help graduates celebrate safely
Ryan Summerlin June 3, 2014
Somehow, those same little children we pushed in baby joggers are now grabbing the keys to the car and dashing off to their graduation parties. And even though they are taller than we are and accomplished beyond our expectations, we still feel a familiar clenching of the stomach and worries about their safety.
Park City High School’s class of 2014 will graduate on Friday and they have earned the right to celebrate. The seniors have excelled in every arena, from athletic to academic, and graduation should be a time for exuberance. But they need our help to ensure the night is not marred by a legal confrontation, or worse, a tragedy.
Last winter a group of graduates from a local private school ended their celebration on a sour note when 16 under age minors (ages 18-21) and 19 juveniles were cited for alcohol-related offenses at a post-graduation party in the Snyderville Basin. The arrests threatened to derail several of the students’ athletic and academic plans and also triggered a chain of angry confrontations between the kids and officers, between parents and their children and between lawmen and some of the parents. Instead of a night to remember, it was a night many want to forget.
So before this year’s grads toss their hats in the air, we hope their families have a serious talk with them about the dangers of drinking and driving. We also hope that adults throughout the community, regardless of their personal views about alcohol, will help ensure a safe environment by not serving minors in their homes or at other social gatherings. In Utah, serving alcohol to minors, even at home, is a crime. And while some may bristle at that, abiding by the law is preferable to being responsible for a potentially fatal drunk-driving accident.
Summit County Sheriff’s deputies and Park City Police officers say they will be on the lookout throughout the weekend for underage drinking and other risky behaviors. They add that they are not trying to dampen the kids’ fun but are focused on their safety.
Park City Recreation is hosting an event to help inform teens and their parents about the legal consequences of drinking and driving and other related issues. The event takes place tonight, June 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Park City Municipal Athletic and Recreation Center, 1200 Little Kate Road. The event is free and open to the public.