Spring break is here, a time many high school students anticipate and plan for all year.
Both Brighton and Hartland students will be off starting Friday and will return to school April 16.
It’s an exciting time full of beaches, cruise ships, family vacations or a trip with friends. Wherever the destination may be, spring break is a time meant for fun, relaxation, maybe a last hurrah with high school friends and always for making memories.
Barb Williams, Brighton High School Substance Abuse Counselor, said that during the last couple of years, the district has made a concentrated effort to educate parents and students about spring break.
"Kids see it as a right of passage - everybody should be able to go and everybody deserves to go," Williams said. "And everybody who does go, drinks and parties and whatever. We were really concerned, because every year we also heard horror stories - situations that occurred, things that happened to students and complications that arise due, almost always, as a result of drinking and the poor results that come with it."
Williams said the district has begun to bring the subject up to parents of 8th grade and 9th grade students.
"We are trying to change the society norm - to promote that it's better to spend a safe time with family or a group of friends with supervision," she said. "And focus on activities that don't involve drinking. There are so many students that go on really cool trips with parents and friends and they have really great experiences. And the dangers and consequences of drinking aren't there because that's not what happens on the trip."
According to Nicole Schingeck, the Student Assistant Program Coordinator at , about 50 percent of Hartland students will be leaving this week for some type of spring break, either with family or friends. For parents who might be sending their high school child off alone for the first time, or chaperoning a group of teenagers, safety should be the number one goal, according to Schingeck.
“I just want spring break to be safe,” she said. “Always have a plan and parents should be communicating that with their kids before they even leave.”
Safety tips that Shingeck gives her students and their parents include the following:
- Buddy system: Use this when leaving the hotel room for any reason.
- Good judgment: Speak to your teen about the dangers of posting pictures and videos as they do not always use good judgment, and these things are out there for everyone to see.
- Should a member of your group become intoxicated, never leave them alone. Call 911 and seek an adult's help.
- Expectations: In the same way you sat your kids down and discussed expectations about school, summer camp and sleepover behavior when they were young, spring break is another important time to talk frankly about expectations and pitfalls.
- Communication: Make sure you know where your child is staying, how to reach him in the event of an emergency (hotel numbers and/or cell) and when you expect to hear from him: every day, every other day, upon arrival, or whatever you agree upon.
- Exit plan: Have your child and his or her friends plan an exit strategy, just in case. Make sure they know they can call you, day or night. Discuss group safety – no one gets left behind, ever. Develop a code word – a word or gesture they can use in uncomfortable or dangerous circumstances to signal that they need help. Emphasize that alcohol and drugs cloud judgment and decrease an individual's ability to make good, even potentially lifesaving decisions. And make sure your child carries not just an ID, but copies of his health insurance card, passport and your contact information with him.
Shingeck also stresses the potential dangers of social media outlets and warns students to think about what they are posting to their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
“In the heat of the moment, they think it’s funny,” Shingeck said. “But those pictures and updates could come back to haunt them whether its in a school setting or their job or even their college applications.”
Hartland High School Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) will be handing out safe spring break messages to their fellow students during the lunch hours on Thursday.