Piedmont High School. Although associated with hard work, good test scores and affluence, our school has another side to it: the party scene. Whether it involves alcohol or just friends hanging out at a house or in a park, the Piedmont party scene is diverse.
“I’d say there’s a party every weekend that you can go to,” sophomore Ricky said. “[And if not], you can make your own, someone always has a house.”
The atmosphere at parties varies, some are more alcohol and drug oriented, while others are more activity and friend centered, senior Norah said.
One type of party, “kickbacks,” consist of a small group of friends hanging out and often drinking.
“Kickbacks have maybe 15 to 20 people and you sit around and drink and hang out,” Norah said. “They’re more intimate in that they’re chiller.”
For a more upbeat, intense party experience, students turn to dance parties, known as “DPs” or house parties.
“There’s no drinking, just people dancing,” Ricky said.
Generally, drinking is prohibited at the party by the host; however, this does not deter students from getting drunk, Norah said. In fact, she said that people drink more before going to a DP than at a kickback or other party, which is also known as pre-gaming.
“At a DP, it’s crazy. People go a lot harder in terms of drinking at a DP because it doesn’t happen as often and [they think it’s their chance to drink more],” junior Lillian said. “It’s almost like amateur hour.”
Ricky added that you can tell when someone has had too much to drink, and that it is his least favorite part of a party.
“Sometimes you get a person that is wobbling around, and you know they’re not doing so well, then they throw up everywhere and it kills the party,” Ricky said.
Lillian, who has hosted dance parties, elaborated on the pressures and concerns associated with hosting a dance party.
“[I’d describe the scene as] hectic,” Lillian said. “You want to make sure everyone has a good time, but there is also the liability of kids drinking. You want to make sure that nothing goes wrong because there are a lot of variables.”
To help ensure that everyone has a good time, hosts often have themes to their dance parties.
“Piedmont is famous for the jungle [theme],” Ricky said. “They had a jungle party, then a jungle part two.”
Hosts often draw upon previous themes, as well as college party themes that they find through social media or Google, Lillian said.
Ricky said he enjoys themed parties because the experience is more lively and fun.
“For DPs it’s [nice to have a] neon theme or animal theme or 80s theme to spice up the party,” Ricky said.
While some students partake in the party scene regularly, others remain wary of the reputation and negative connotations associated with partying. Sophomore Natalie Jeng said that those who party are often judged as immature.
“I hear about people who throw parties that get crazy and they are usually judged for it,” Jeng said. “My friends and I hear about parties being shut down and think, ‘They must be pretty dumb.’”
Junior Evelina also said that the reputation associated with partying can encourage or deter teens from joining in.
Although the social separation between those who party and those who don’t has decreased since middle school, some people can be ostracized for either partying too hard or not enough. It’s a delicate system, Evelina said.
Despite the differing perspectives, at any local high school party, students can expect to find similar experiences. Some characteristics that people associate with Piedmont parties are affluence and wastefulness, Ricky said. However, the stereotype of being wasteful is false.
“We have more access to alcohol, but it’s the same [experience] once you get inside,” Ricky said.
In the 2014-2015 Healthy Kids Survey, 51 percent of students said that it is easy to obtain alcohol.
Norah said that this trend may be a result of the affluence present in Piedmont. She said that although wastefulness is not unique to Piedmont parties, the wealth is.
Lillian agreed and said that the access to money and the high expectations from school and parents foster a “work hard, party hard” attitude.
Piedmont parent and co-supervisor of the sophomore grade group of the Piedmont Parent Network (PPN) Kathleen Winters said that, from her knowledge, Piedmont parents’ attitudes towards partying and alcohol vary greatly.
“[Parents’ attitudes are] all over the place,” Winters said. “There are some parents who don’t care at all, and some that are even willing to provide alcohol. It’s a wide spectrum.”
But despite this wide variety of opinions, Winters said that most parents fall somewhere in the middle, discouraging drinking, but accepting that it may happen.
“The parents that I interact with the most are [parents that prefer their kids do not drink], but that realistically will happen and [the parents] should be prepared,” Winters said.
Winters said that her own parenting attitude aligns with this philosophy, but also stressed that she prioritizes safety above all else.
“[Drinking is] really not a good idea, but if it does happen, kids should know that parents are there if they need,” Winters said.
Clinical supervisor of the PUSD Wellness Center Dr. Alisa Crovetti, PhD said that in her experience many Piedmont parents do not outright say “no” to alcohol, but more accept, and sometimes even encourage, underage drinking. Although she does not speak from the perspective of her PHS student clients, as that would breach confidentiality, she has talked to parents and other non-confidential sources.
“[The] parents hosting these parties [are] either present or they give their kids their blessing to go ahead and do it,” Crovetti said.
Lillian estimated that in the case of about 75 to 80 percent of Piedmont parties, the parents know it is going on, and that the other times, the parents eventually find out. Ricky placed the estimate at 50 percent.
“Parents say that they’re strict to other parents just to look better,” Lillian said. “Images are a really big thing in Piedmont, especially amongst the parents.”