Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

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MHS Dance Ends Due to Student Drinking

After a group of students showed up drunk at a Mamaroneck High School dance on Friday, January 8, administrators decided to discontinue the popular activity.

The dances, known as The Coast, have been held twice a year since 2007 in the pavilion at Harbor Island Park in Mamaroneck Village.  Organized by a student board , the dances attracted a diverse crowd of students from all grade levels.

The January 8 dance had been restricted to 350 students holding previously purchased tickets, and there were a number of chaperones, including an assistant principal, the student activities coordinator and several teachers and other school staffers.

Students learned of The Coast cancellation at a lunch-time forum on Tuesday, January 12. Around 100 students attended as did the school principal, assistant principals, athletic director, guidance counselors, student activities coordinator and social worker.

Among the topics discussed were the potential consequences for violating the Mamaroneck student code of conduct relating to alcohol consumption.

School officials, citing regulations on student privacy, revealed few details about the incident and what – if any – punishments were administered. Even unofficial sources – including PTSA volunteers and student leaders – were reluctant to speak on the record.

Debbie Manetta, spokesperson for the district, did say “We are very concerned about the amount of drinking that goes on in the community – as well as in other communities like ours.”

She referred to school policy posted on the district website, but said “there is discretion within the policy.”

Asked to comment on The Coast, Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried said, “Students enjoy getting together out of school, and it is disappointing that it won’t happen again in this format. There may be other venues that we’ll work with the Student Council on.”

Disappointment was a common reaction to the incident and its aftermath. “There are a lot of kids out there who would like to socialize without alcohol,” said Janet Buchbinder, a member of the Mamaroneck School Board and president of RADAR, an organization dedicated to reducing teen use of alcohol, drugs and other harmful substances.” It’s a shame that the actions of a few ruin it for everyone.”

Dances & Problems

This is not the first time that teen drinking or other misbehavior has scuttled a popular program.  In the past, The Village of Larchmont allowed Mamaroneck High School dances, known then as The Cove, to occur at the play house in Flint Park. As with The Coast, the dances became overcrowded and organizers tried various schemes to keep attendance to a manageable level.

“We had a lot of problems and drinking was one of them,” said Larchmont resident Rita Plansky, one of two volunteer coordinators for close to a decade.  “Most of the kids were very cooperative and great, but there were some who caused trouble,” she recalled.

The coordinator and Larchmont officials decided to end the program in 2003. “We agreed it was an accident waiting to happen,” said Ms. Plansky.

After  The Cove closed, there was some interest in reviving it at a larger, more controllable location.  One option under consideration was the Town of Mamaroneck Highway Department’s new garage at Maxwell Avenue.  But for various logistical and safety reasons, the garage idea was never realized. (See: A New Venue for Teen Nightclub — in a Garage?

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14 comments to MHS Dance Ends Due to Student Drinking

  • David

    Interesting outcome. After reading this story I have a few questions of my own. I’m trying to figure out how one can make the connection that the dance was the reason the kids drank in the first place? Is this problem more of a liability issue? Is the school or town afraid of being sued? It seems odd that the town would punish dozens of alcohol-free kids because a group showed up drunk I would have thought school-sponsored dances would deter kids from drinking. I would also think that the school code of conduct is applied to individuals, not dozens of students trying to do the right thing. Besides, cancelling a school function will likely encourage kids to do reckless things. Am I wrong?

  • Pseud O Nym

    Where are the parents??? I don’t think that the majority of students should suffer because of a minority of students out of control behavior. Certainly, the school has to take this seriously. If the parents realize that it will go on their child’s records, and may impact their getting into the college of their choice…there will be a change.

    Some years back, there was a similar incident in Scarsdale. The issue is “where are these children getting their alcohol and who is funding them?” The same dialogue was going on ten years ago, and not much has changed.

    I was recently at Trader Joes and a parent was proudly talking about “how their MHS student could drink at home..because it was safe.” The young worker replied “my mother taught me how to drink” with sheer delight. I intervened and said I don’t approve of teaching teenagers in our community that they are somehow “special” and that “laws don’t have to be followed by them.”

    This is not about alcohol necessarily. It is about following laws that are made for everyone. We are “not special, nor are our children.”

  • next town over

    I think David hit the nail on the head. The district lives in fear of being sued. This is a major problem in this dysfunctional town. Rich kids get away with anything because their parents play the “lawsuit card.” Its so much safer to just pull the plug on the entire activity, than to single out, and punish, the perpetrators.

  • PJ

    What if the attendees got frisked and if questionable had to do the alcolizer as a way to get in, is that infringing on anybody but the ones breaking the rules.They the good kids shouldnt object to that ,although it might infringe on some of the parents rights.

  • Townie

    I agree with David’s comments as well. Both of my children enjoyed dances at The Coast while they were students at MHS. What a shame that no one in the administration has that sense to see that they are essentially punishing students that are ‘playing by the rules’. The kids that showed up drunk at the dance will not feel punished and certainly don’t need a school district sponsored dance as a reason to drink…they will find reasons to drink regardless.

  • James Horkheimer

    Drinking was an issue at MHS in the early 1950′s when I was a student. Why should it be a surprise that it’s still a problem? There is no way to condone under age drinking, nor will there ever be an effective way to stop it. More stringent security at dances would be far more effective than


    Reward those students who did not come to the dance drunk. Don’t punish innocent students. It’s illogical. If my colleague commits a crime, I don’t get punished for his crime.

    Let the school administrators publicly acknowledge those students who behaved well by name, and thank them. Let it be published. That way we wouldn’t have to identify those who were drunk..just those who were NOT DRUNK. Positive reinforcement goes a long way.

    I think that if a student comes to class or school activities drunk, that it should be recorded in their school records, and available to college admission offices as a consequence for their actions.

  • Anon E. Mouse

    To all those of you commenting on this that are parents or adults, i just want to clarify a few things:

    First, and foremost, the major misunderstanding the administration and you folks seem to make is that while some kids “showed up drunk” and got caught, others “played by the rules” and enjoyed the dance sober. This is a major misconception, as I guarantee more than 3/4 of the students there were at least on some level, intoxicated. As James said, drinking was a problem in the 1950s, and still remains a “problem” today, if you so call it that.
    Students across America, even in our precious little town “experiment with drugs and alcohol” regularly if not excessively. This is a fact, a part of life, and cannot be denied. Students will drink anywhere, everywhere, anytime, any place. The fact that the school had a dance and “some kids” showed up drunk because of it is completely incongruous since these kids, and even those who didn’t get caught, would have most likely been drunk some other place anyway.

    Secondly, we all know that the school is not so much worried about the “safety of our kids” or that the drinking problem needs to be taken care of, so much as they are worried about a lawsuit, bad publicity, complaining parents, etc. as some of you have correctly recognized.

    Since our school wishes to discontinue the dance, as it has rendered, I feel betrayed behind their reasoning, citing as I have said above, out of fear that the dance was a place for kids to go drunk on a friday night. Our administration and teachers, our parents and students know that drinking will happen regardless of some school dance happening or not. It is an undeniable, and yes maybe unfortunate, fact. If our school wishes to do the truly right thing, it will come out to the press and public, and most importantly its students, saying that the dance has to be canceled because of liability issues, etc. It is unfortunate that the dance has to be canceled because of this, but it is not completely unreasonable–for who likes a lawsuit anyway?

    Just remember, the dance wasn’t the reason people drank in the first place. And when I say people, I mean the majority, not the minority.

  • Observer

    I don’t think we can assume that 3/4 of the students were drinking or that all students will drink,or experiment with drugs. That is unfair. We have plenty of students that are law abiding good kids.

  • Anon E. Mouse

    Didn’t I make it pretty obvious I’m a student?

    • Observer

      You are a rebel rouser Anon E. Mouse! LOL :-) Perhaps you are speaking from “experience” in the days of your own youth…which I suspect may have been some time ago. :-) They probably didn’t allow dancing in those days. LOL :-) Sober up! ;-)

  • Anon E. Mouse

    I’m in the high school now… good try though

    • Observer

      For some reason, I doubt that you are a high school student. Perhaps you are “standing in the high school” instead. I suspect that is wishful thinking. If you are, “don’t come to school dances drunk.” ;-)