In one ear, out the other – Despite strong warnings, two dozen RHS students charged with underage drinking

May 28, 2009
By

By Seth Daniel

seth@reverejournal.com

 

After all the warnings, all the precautions and all of the lectures surrounding last Thursday’s senior prom, Revere school officials are hanging their heads in dismay as news trickles in from Maine about 28 Revere High School (RHS) students charged with underage drinking at an after-prom beer bust in Acton, Maine.

 Perhaps even more frustrating is the fact that adults sponsored the party, in which 41 Revere residents (including the 28 students) were charged.

 “It’s totally disheartening,” said Superintendent of Schools Paul Dakin. “There were good students on the list and some good athletes on the list. They’re all average kids and represent the gamut of high school kids – some with good records and some with bad records. There were also a number of dropouts and recent alumni there.

 “There seems to be a culture out there that says, ‘Let’s go drinking; let’s go drinking all night, and if we do it far enough away from Revere, maybe we won’t get caught.’ It’s unfortunate because we worked so hard to make things right. Every time we take a step forward, we then take a giant step backward with something like this.”

 The prom and the after-party came just one week after a Saugus teen who was driving drunk killed a woman walking her dog early in the morning. Revere school officials used that incident as a way to deter risky behavior at or after the senior prom.

 It apparently didn’t work for some.

 By all accounts, the actual prom went very well, with everyone abiding by the rules and having a wonderful time at the Danversport Yacht Club.

 Things went awry after the prom, though, when 28 students, some as young as sophomores, took a trip to Maine.

 A spokesman from the York County (Maine) Sheriff’s Office told the Journal that around 3:45 a.m. on Friday, they received a complaint for a loud party.

 They reported to a summer home owned by Michael Pitrone, 48, of 57 Roosevelt St. – a former Department of Public Works (DPW) employee who apparently has no immediate ties to any of the kids at the high school.

 Deputies found numerous vehicles parked along the road and also found 40 high school-age kids from Revere engaged in an after-prom party where alcohol was being furnished in large quantities.

 After a brief investigation at the scene, Pitrone was charged with furnishing a place for minors to consume or possess liquor.

 Some 41 individual – 40 from Revere – were charged with illegal possession of liquor by consumption. Of those charged, 11 were under the age of 18, and the remainder were between 18 and 20 years old.

 There were no arrests, but all were summoned to Springvale District Court for arraignments to be held in August.

 Additionally, the RHS school resource officer will investigate the incident for possible action in Massachusetts.

 Rumors around town were that Pitrone was charging a set price per kid to get into the party, though police didn’t confirm that. School officials said there were at least two parents who were involved in the planning of the party.

 Those in attendance ranged from RHS dropouts to National Honor Society members to standout athletes. Some of those students who attended the party had allegedly been part of the royal court at the prom.

 Tuesday morning, RHS Principal Dave DeRuosi spoke with the students involved and let them know they would be on social probation. However, they will get to walk across the stage at graduation.

 “They’ve all been put on social probation,” said Dakin. “If they’re athletes, they’re done with sports. Seniors going to activities like the Odyssey senior cruise in Boston Harbor and the senior barbecue, those students will not be allowed to attend. If they had sports awards or scholarships, they won’t be allowed to accept those at the awards ceremonies. They’ll be given those awards separately.”

 He said they couldn’t hold up students who had made such a poor decision.

“It’s difficult to hold a kid out there and put them on a pedestal when they’ve done something like this, but they also have earned their awards, and any money they received for a scholarship will not be affected,” he said.

The affected students will be allowed to walk across the stage on graduation, which will be held outdoors at Harry Della Russo Stadium on June 10. That allowance has elicited some anger from parents who disagree and think those students shouldn’t walk across the stage at graduation.

 “I run a tight line and am strict in many ways, but I wouldn’t do that,” said Dakin. “They would have to repeatedly be breaking school rules for us not to let them go across the graduation stage…That’s a family event much more than an individual event.”

 Meanwhile, Dakin said he is expecting to receive some negative feedback from those who feel the students shouldn’t be punished.

 “Sometimes I feel the teachers and administration at the high school are on a raft alone when it comes to standing tall on this issue,” he said. “They don’t even get the support of all the parents…Somebody has to stand up and say this is wrong. We will stand our ground, and anybody who has a problem with it can have a private conversation with me.”

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