Community must unite to prevent graduation-related tragedies
The Park Record editorial, May 24-26, 2017
May 23, 2017
This is an exciting time of year for everyone involved in public education. It's an opportunity to reflect on the hard work students, teachers, parents and community members put in to shape the graduating classes of Summit County's three high schools. And it's a chance to offer the graduates one last bit of encouragement before they enter the real world.
But the community's responsibility for the well-being of the Class of 2017 isn't over yet.
Along with commencement ceremonies and teary goodbyes, the weeks surrounding Summit County's graduations are also filled with student parties. To be sure, the graduates deserve to celebrate after a stressful year of classes and college applications, but the revelry can quickly turn risky.
According to the Summit County Sheriff's Office, officers this time of year watch closely for high school gatherings where alcohol or drugs are present. But residents throughout the area, both students and adults, must also do their part. Parents should remind their children what to do if they are at a party with illegal substances. They need to be clear that even if their children don't partake, failing to speak up makes them complicit if something goes wrong.
Likewise, it's crucial for the students themselves to eliminate the risk in the first place by not bringing booze or drugs to their celebrations. The moment they move their tassels from the right side of their caps to the left, graduates are bestowed with the responsibility of adulthood. Now is the time to prove they deserve it.
The potential consequences of failing to do so are simply too great. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly one-third of all alcohol-related traffic deaths of people under 21 happen during graduation season. And Summit County residents, with the wounds still fresh from the overdose deaths of two 13-year-old Park City boys in September, need no reminder about how fast experimenting with drugs can turn deadly.
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Should students fail to heed the warnings, the community can still act. Neighbors or others with information about dangerous underage parties should tip off officers by calling the Sheriff's Office's non-emergency line at 435-615-3600 or submitting an anonymous comment at summitcountysheriff.org.
Late spring is a time for celebration. The students, and their community, should be remembering happy moments and looking forward to ones that lie ahead. By all accounts, the promise of Summit County's Class of 2017 is boundless, so it would be nothing short of a tragedy if a preventable accident wipes away the future of even one graduate.
It's up to everybody, from students to their parents to their neighbors, to make sure that doesn't happen.