They began planning the graduation party for their daughter in January. It was already going to be a wonderful and outstanding affair. Of course, she deserved it. Jenny finished high school with honors. A 3.88 GPA and a 32 Act score. Not only did she have outstanding academic achievements, but she was an athlete and involved in numerous activities.
These accomplishments were not unusual. Her best friend had comparable grades and test scores, and Jen's boyfriend was 'the one” at school. They all studied hard and played even harder. Nonetheless, Jen's parents began planning the party, to be held at their home – a 7,500 sq foot custom masterpiece, the day after graduation.
Tents, tables and chairs. Caterers, balloons, and horshoes. A disc jockey and live jazz quartet. All deposits were completed by March. The guest list was finalized in April. Jen submitted 100 names to her folks. Mr. Stanton said, “That's too many, honey. We're thinking more like seventy.”
“Okay.” Jen said, throwing up her hands. “I don't know how to cut this down.”
“Well, try. We need the list by April 5th.”
As things progressed, Mr. Stanton purchased a case of beer and wine coolers---just in case. A few kids, and adults, might want a little drink, he convinced himself.
Graduation was such a glorious occasion. The students looked great in their powder blue caps and gowns. Many pictures were taken with friends and family. The day was long, but tomorrow would be another glorious day.
Arising early, Mrs. Stanton finished the last bit of cleaning. The maid service had completed their work. The tents and decorations were done and the caterer was due to arrive at noon.
Mr. Stanton put the soda and water on ice. A “special” tub would be available for the beer and wine coolers. “I'll monitor these myself” he decided. “We don't want it to get out of hand,” feeling a twinge of worry, as he unpacked the drinks.
The guests began arriving at 3:30p. There was pretty of space in the yard to hang out. The weather was beautiful, and Jen looked lovely. Being the only child, it was easy to keep her in the top fashion, latest hair styles and MAC make-up.
“Hey, Jen. You got anything stronger?” said Tom, the 6-4' football player, from the neighboring high school. “This pop is getting old.”
“Uh, let me check. But, you can't go around drinking in front of everybody. OK?”
“No prob. I'll probably head over to the creek. Nobody will see me.”
“Be right back.”
“Hey, dad. Tom wants a beer. I know you have some put away. Can I get one for him?”
“Well, OK. Just be discrete. Don't want the other kids finding out. Just for a few parents and some kids. Understand?”
“Sure, dad.” snatching the beer and running to Tom. “Be cool with this. OK?”
By 8:00pm, a few more kids had beers and wine coolers. The music was jamming, and people were dancing. Then, all of a sudden, Tom pushed another guy and the fight began. With about 50 kids milling around, it was hard to see exactly what was happening.
“Hey, you guys, stop it,” yelled Pete. But, by then, it was too late. Both boys crashed into the food table. Then someone picked up a bottle and hit Tom on the head.
Jen's parents called the police. When they arrived, Tom was laying on the grass with his hand over his head. The other boy was inside the house.
As the police took statements, it was clear some party-goers had been drinking.
“Mr. Stanton,” were you aware alcohol was being served here?”
Very sheepishly, he responded, “Yes. I bought a few beers and coolers. But, I was very careful.”
“Well, these kids are underage. The legal drinking age is 21. I will have to cite you.”
“I'm so sorry. I didn't expect this to happen. We really don't drink at all. We're Christians. I just thought a few drinks would be okay, since this was a celebration.”
“Mr. Stanton, let me tell you something. All across this country, incidences of underage drinking occur. However, the law is very clear about drinking, as well as DUI. Do you understand the seriousness of this matter?”
“Yes, officer. I do.”
Mrs. Stanton stood there in disgust.
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