Archive for October, 2011

Underage Drinking and Driving

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Party Bus Driver Playing Police or Parent?

It’s that time of year when the wind starts getting colder and stinging the tip of your nose and fingers; leaves start changing to golden colors and drifting off the trees; and people start digging out their scarves and gloves from the back of the closet. It’s fall.

And with this time of the year comes pumpkin carving, sweaters and Homecoming – a quasi-holiday for schools that runs from September to November. Students can’t wait for festivities, which usually mean an early dismissal for a pep rally, parade, football game and dance.

Most people look back fondly on their experiences from Homecoming and the dance. How excited you were to get your new dress or shirt and tie; worrying about getting the flowers to match with you and your date’s outfits, making reservations for dinner; and planning the after-party with your friends.

Maybe you or some of your friends drank after the dance – or maybe even before the dance. You were all underage and alcohol is prohibited on school property, but that was a part of the Homecoming ritual – no big deal. Except for some teenagers in Highland Park, IL, underage drinking became a big deal.

Should Underage Drinking Be Tolerated under Certain Circumstances?

DUI punishments differ across the nation, depending on different DUI state laws, but one thing all the DUI laws agree on is that drinking and driving is a serious crime. When it comes to underage drinking, all 50 states enforce a zero tolerance policy which makes it illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol in his or her system if he or she is under 21.

Although these students were not driving, it is still illegal for the teenagers to be drinking since they were under the age of 21, but this is where a debate is beginning to brood. Most of us would probably agree that Cesar was in the right for calling the police, but The Chicago Tribune reported that experts are raising questions about the “fallout from such vigilance.”

Is it possible that after this incident students will drive themselves to the dance the next time instead of dealing with being reported by an adult? Then teenagers will be bypassing adult supervision and creating more danger for themselves and anyone else on the road.

While Cesar and others believe that the limo driver was just doing his job, some feel that the students shouldn’t have suffered any punishment since they at least took the initiative to get a sober driver for the night. Some people say that underage drinking is inevitable and that we should be encouraging students to consider alternatives to drinking and driving themselves.

In fact, many of the parents are upset with Cesar for involving the police. Although they may not be pleased with their children’s actions, some of the parents feel that the driver’s actions were uncalled for. One parent has threatened to sue the company Cesar works for, Any Time Limo in Addison, IL.

The company’s general manager, Alex Mich, told The Chicago Tribune that the company expects to lose some business over the ordeal but doesn’t care about the money. Any Time Limo is pleased Cesar did the “right thing.” Mich said that both parents and teens are warned that drinking, smoking and sexual acts are not allowed in the vehicles.

Limousine Driver Not On Board for Party in His Bus

On September 27, 20 teenagers headed for a high school Homecoming dance in Township High School District 113 boarded Leonel Cesar’s “party bus,” reported The Chicago Tribune. The white limo coach is equipped with a TV and stereo, costing $1,500 for three hours.

On their way to a restaurant in Chicago, one of the boys in the group asked Cesar to stop at his house in Highland Park. He came out of the house with a bag, and when Cesar ask him what he had, the boy told the driver it was none of his business and that the group would tip him well.

Cesar quickly put two-and-two together, figuring it was alcohol. He tried calling some of the teenagers’ parents but didn’t get a quick response. Some of the teens begged Cesar not to call their parents or police, and a few even offered him money, but Cesar refused.

Once police and parents arrived on the scene, there was mixed reactions. The police ended up issuing 13 underage drinking citations, while parents fumed – not at their misbehaved children but at the bus driver and limo company.

Cesar told The Chicago Tribune, that while some parents thanked him for reporting the underage drinking to the police, others told him his actions were uncalled for because it was Homecoming.

Are New Programs Encouraging Students to Drink or Keeping Our Roads Safe?

Beyond the debate on this most recent incident is the discussion on other programs that have been developed to encourage students to not drink and drive. In New Trier Township, Safe Rides has been attracting attention. The program allows students to call peer volunteers to pick them up from parties if they are intoxicated – no questions asked.

Some feel that by offering this service, students are only encouraged to drink because they have a safe way of getting home and not getting caught. While others say that whether we have people transporting teenagers or not, underage drinking will continue to happen. If we have no safe way of getting these children from one point to the next, they will only choose to drive themselves, which will only endanger even more people.

Jeff Brooks, who oversees the Safe Rides program, told The Chicago Tribune that the steps being taken in the real world to stop students from drinking are not working. He designed the program for one purpose, and that was to get teenagers home safely.

However, the superintendent of Township High School District 113 said that the actions of the students were unacceptable – whether they had a sober driver or not. School officials have suspended the students from athletic and other activities…….

The moral of the story is that if you are a minor, DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL ONTO OUR BUSES!!!!!



Karaoke Party Bus Guide

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Singing karaoke for the first time can be scary and you might not think a “How to” guide on singing karaoke is necessary, especially if you’re not much of a karaoke fan.  But even those who don’t actively seek karaoke can often get roped into it, and you’ll be better off making the experience as painless (read: embarrassing train wreck-free) as possible. Here are some basic tips you might not have thought of, to make your karaoke experience much more enjoyable for both you and your audience.

1. Song Choice

Choose a song that you know and that is easily in your voice range.  Singing a song that you know really well will make it easier for you to give your best performance on stage – you can practice songs online at home or by singing along with the original recording.

If you’re singing at a karaoke bar or party, singing an up tempo song rather than a ballad, will keep the crowd in a party mood, singing a ballad can clear a room.  You Really Got Me by The Kinks is a good song in a mid range that almost everyone can sing easily.  Girls, if you want to sing it too, feel free to swap the gender “Boy, you really got me now”!

Choose a song that’s under 3 or 4 minutes – unless you’re a pro and really know the song well, singing for more than 3 or 4 minutes on stage will seem like a really really long time.  Although it might seem like a good song choice, Hey Jude by the Beatles, is over 7 minutes long, and would be best to sing it online rather than on stage!

2. Bust A Move

No matter how well you move, entertaining the audience with your dance moves is part of the fun particularly during music breaks of the song (if you’re not comfortable dancing by yourself on stage, you might want to make sure that the song you choose does not have long musical breaks).

Barry Manilow’s Copacabana (At The Copa) is a great song choice, but be prepared to dance around the stage for almost 2 minutes of the the musical break in the middle of the song.  Don’t be discouraged from singing songs with musical breaks, just be prepared to do something during them.

3. Look at the crowd and smile

Not only will you have more fun if you know the lyrics really well and don’t have to rely on the screen, the audience will enjoy your performance much more if you’re moving around the stage and at least sometimes looking out into the crowd and smiling.  Any audience participation that you can gain will increase the amount of applause you receive at the end of your performance.

It’s a win-win situation, the audience will enjoy your song more and so will you! Singing karaoke is all about having fun as Amy proves in her karaoke rendition of Tina Turner’s Simply the Best.

4. Go with your friends and perform a duet

If it’s your first time and you don’t know a song really well, or you feel too nervous, you don’t have to sing karaoke alone.  Find a friend and sing together, or get a group of people and go on stage to shout it out!  A good song choice for multiple voices, that’s danceable and  a lot of fun to sing and to perform, is Kool & The Gang’s Celebration.

5. Share your mic

After you’ve sung your song and basked in the applause, hand the mic back to the KJ and let someone else have their moment on stage.  While you’re not on stage, sit back and enjoy other karaoke performances and encourage others by listening to their performances and applauding. When it’s your turn you’ll get back what you give.

However and wherever you sing karaoke, remember to have fun. You’re only as good (or bad) as your last performance and unless you’re recording songs and publishing them online, chances are that you’ll be the only one to remember your performance.