BreakingTraditionby Michelle Beyer, Wading River, NYWhen I asked students at my high school what they plan to do on Friday night, I found that there was a trend among younger students. Student who are 14 and 15 tend to participate in "hang out" sessions on the beach, in the woods or in parking lots. It is not that they hang out that surprises me, but what they do. When I asked them (as if I had no clue), "So, what do you do when you hang out?" the response was what I expected: "We just chill out, you know. Drink and smoke [cigarettes]" and often (more than one would think), "Get high." This "tradition" is passed down and practiced by incoming freshmen.My community relations class feels that this is not a "tradition" to be proud of and we are aiming to break it. We feel it stems from the lack of activities in our area. Our plan is to develop a drug-free and alcohol-free atmosphere where students will safely enjoy themselves. We will hold it on two Friday nights a month (for starters) in a local recreation center. There, we will provide music, refreshments and other activities at a low cost. We are sending out a survey to find out what other activities the students would enjoy. We want to have as many options as possible to make the night a hit and keep them coming back. We want our students to be addicted to fun - pure honest fun - rather than to pot or alcohol.There will be many obstacles to overcome because tradition is hard to break. However, I do believe it can be done. Our greatest fear is failing and being used by students as another excuse to go out drinking. If we advertise correctly to gain support from our peers and community, we feel that our project has great potential. We do not expect to stop every teenager from drinking and smoking pot, but we hope to provide an option, a new tradition for the high school students of Shoreham and Wading River. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.