This article and photo is reprinted from the Newbury Park High School Prowler Newspaper. It was written by Sophie Li, a NPHS freshman staff writer.
Shea Flaherty & Allison Watson participate in a Straight Up Reality Party
“Fifty bottles of beer on the wall, 50 bottles of beer; you take one down, and pass it around. Thirty-six bottles of beer on the wall!” Madison Lanson, freshman, sang as she prepared for her role as an intoxicated teenager at the Straight Up Reality Party.
Straight Up Reality Improv is an organization that works to eliminate teenage alcohol abuse in Ventura County by holding “reality parties” to inform parents about what happens at teenage parties when alcohol is present.
Volunteers, usually high school and college students, act out events that often occur at alcohol-influenced teenage gatherings while a tour guide leads parents through the scenes and explains each one.
“We want parents to understand the current culture of teenage drinking parties so they can have relevant conversations with their teens and have family policies that keep their kids safe,” Katherine Kasmir, program director, said.
Principal Athol Wong, along with other parents, reserved spots on the tours that ran every half-hour from 3 to 8 p.m at the home of Lisa Rogers, PSA president. On the outside, the house was supposed to look like a normal, family-friendly home. On the inside, however, parents faced some of their deepest fears.
“Parents reacted differently throughout. Some were shocked to find out certain things, others looked like they were almost laughing reminiscently, but a lot of things, like when I ‘beat the guy up for cheating with my girlfriend,’ were powerful enough to bring a certain awkward silence over them,” Shea Flaherty, senior, said.
Other events that were portrayed included demonstrations of drinking games, how underage teenage obtain alcohol, alcohol use with drugs and sex, and other aspects of alcohol-induced actions at parties.
Toward the end, parents were led to a dark room lit only by candles held up to the faces of the volunteer actors and actresses as they confessed how alcohol affected their sexual actions, such as pregnancies from drunken sex. Lines included statements like, “I hooked up with my best friend’s girlfriend. I was totally wasted. I couldn’t help it.”
The scene ended with tears when actress Emilie Arndt, TOHS student, broke down as she dramatized her regrets about losing her virginity.
“You could tell the program was effective by the looks on [the parents’] faces. If they weren’t moved by the previous scenes, then it was the candle confession scene that did it. Some of the parents were trying to hold back tears,” freshman Lucy Hu said.
Following the tour was a discussion with Kasmir, school resource officers from the Thousand Oaks Police Department, and the parents, who voiced concerns regarding their children and shared ideas on how to prevent the events they just witnessed from happening.
The party might have been serious for the parents, but the volunteers thought otherwise.
“It was fun acting rebellious for a good cause because that’s the total opposite of who I am. Our acting proves that you don’t have to drink to have fun and be crazy, because we did that by drinking lemonade!” Wilhelm said.