Beach week meeting details expectations

Beach+week+meeting+details+expectations

Owen Krucoff, Editor-in-Chief

Students and parents gathered at WJ on February 13 for a presentation about beach week safety. Two police officers from Dewey Beach in Delaware and Georgine DeBord, the Juvenile Division Coordinator in Montgomery County’s State’s Attorney’s Office, spoke to the crowd regarding beach week.
Their main message to the families from WJ, Whitman, B-CC, Churchill and Wootton High Schools was that while students should enjoy their time with friends during beach week, they need to exercise caution and make good decisions to avoid unsafe or illegal activities. All attendees were provided with a list of beach week talking points and tips ranging from house care and transportation to underage drinking concerns and behavior in emergency situations. Also distributed was a list of emergency contacts and hospitals for various locations along the Delaware coast and a sample pledge for traveling students to make with their parents.

DeBord began the meeting with a visual presentation in the cafeteria, aided by students. Roughly a dozen students held up large posters, each representing a different stage of life from birth to age 80. DeBord described what made each stage unique and exciting before instructing all except for the first few stages to lower their posters and leave the room. This sudden exit represented what could happen to a student’s life if they were to make poor decisions during beach week.

Sergeant Clifford Dempsey followed DeBord with a description of what his and other towns experience during beach week, and what students should plan for and expect. Dempsey has attended beach week meetings at D.C. area high schools for the past 15 years. He detailed the activities of the police force on typical summer nights and discussed laws students should be wary of, from obvious ones such as alcohol restrictions to less well-known ones like town-specific curfews. On multiple occasions, he used the names of specific groups of friends from the crowd to stress the reality of the difficult experiences he has witnessed during beach week.

Lisa Moss is a WJ parent who had three seniors attend beach week in 2016. She helped organize this year’s meeting, and her experience has given her tips for other parents who are new to beach week.

“[One] tip is to have a parent stay nearby at the beach so that he/she can help in case of emergency and check in on the beach week house periodically,” she said. “If kids know there is an adult who could stop by unexpectedly, they are less likely to be [acting up],” she said.

After Dempsey’s speech, the meeting split into separate question and answer sessions. DeBord and Dempsey remained in the cafeteria to take questions from the parents, while the students and Police Officer Jason Lovins convened in the student commons. Lovins advised the students on topics such as protection of belongings, behavior around police officers and how to expect the law to be enforced.
While the meeting offered plenty of valuable information about beach week, Jonah Renbaum’s overall plans for his trip in June remained unchanged.

“It didn’t really have any impact on my plans,” he said. “I had already had a place booked before the meeting and they didn’t talk about safe places to stay or anything like that.”

Moss reported that the meeting did persuade some parents to change their beach week plans.

“Several parents reported that after attending the meeting, they will not allow their child to attend beach week,” she said. “For those who will allow them to go, there are great tips and ideas to open the line of communications between parents and their kids so that the teens remain safe and the parents feel more comfortable in their decision to let their children go.”

Lovins hopes that, despite raising many concerns and warning of dangerous situations, the event still encourages students to enjoy their time at beach week.

“We want you to come here and enjoy the beach, the atmosphere, your transition from high school to college and on toward your professional life,” he said. “Let this be a great time and a great memory. But just be safe about it.”

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