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Underage drinking a problem... students tell city council

Alcohol abuse is a problem among teens, stated Sunnyside High School leadership class students Claire Schilperoort and Melissa Stamschror.

Last night they presented their case to the Sunnyside City Council.

They were part of a group of eight students who returned from Washington D.C. in February, where they attended a conference on drug and alcohol issues among teens.

Schilperoort and Stamschror said underage drinking is a problem in Sunnyside for several reasons, including the fact that those over 21 years of age are buying the alcohol for the teens.

They also pointed out that the high school's athletic code is too lenient and needs to be toughened and that more parental intervention is needed.

Schilperoort described a mentoring program for third graders to better educate children and their peers before they get to an age when they might start drinking.

Leadership students are also proposing an anonymous tip line, where people could phone in tips on underage drinking parties in progress.

Councilman Bill Gant asked the girls if they were getting support from other students at the high school in their efforts to battle under-age drinking.

"I feel very unsupported by my peers," said Schilperoort. She added that many don't see a need for the leadership team's effort. She noted many students look at drinking as routine and even talk about how drunk they were the night before.

Gant told them that many of their peers will probably appreciate their efforts. As to the school's athletic code, Gant cautioned that "everyone wants a strict code until it impacts them."

Councilman Bruce Epps complimented the girls as role models. Councilman Paul Garcia asked the girls about expanding the leadership team's mentoring efforts to include middle school students.

"That's on our very long list of things to do," Schilperoort replied. "We'll get there."

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