Wednesday, September 25, 2013

300 Teens Throw Party at Ex-NFL Player's Home

              This past Labor Day weekend in Stephentown, NY, over 300 teens broke into the vacation home of former NFL player, Brian Holloway. While at home in his permanent residence in Florida, Holloway watched the event unfold online as hundreds of teens gathered at his residence to throw a party before police were able to intervene. Throughout the night these teenagers, under the influence of alcohol and various drugs, smashed windows, urinated on floors, punched holes in walls and ceilings, spray painted walls, and even stole the headstone of Holloway’s grandson who died at birth. All in all there were over $20,000 worth of damage.

An event like this certainly calls for action. Action on the part of the parents, police, teenagers involved and Brian Holloway. Most people under similar circumstances as Holloway would likely be moved to press charges, however that is not the position Holloway has taken. Instead, he created a website, The site includes photos posted during and after the party on various social media venues by the teens themselves in an effort to help police identify the participants. Holloway’s intention has never been to simply ID the participants in order to punish them, but “to turn this moment into a movement” by giving the 300 an opportunity to reconcile and assuage their actions by turning them into ambassadors to reach out to others with the message of “accountability and reconciliation…[and] save lives”. This calls for repentance on the part of the teens, and unfortunately that is not a position many have taken.
In a shocking twist to this story, not only did these teens boast of their actions on Twitter, Instagram, etc., their parents actually came to their defense. While Holloway could have easily demanded that identified kids be taken under arrest, ultimately generating criminal records, he merely tried to turn the event into a learning experience to generate a higher level or moral character and accountability. Parents of these teens, however, are now threatening violence and lawsuits. Parents are angry that Holloway identifyed their children online based on the argument that he is undermining their opportunity to get into college, despite the fact that their own children were initially responsible for posting pictures and messages from the party.
What’s more is that Holloway had been planning a party for active and retired military personnel and their families at his NY property. In an attempt to prepare his home and allow the teens an opportunity to right their wrongs, he invited the 300 to come clean and repair damages. Of the hundreds, only one came to help.
Here is a case of outrageous behavior, where rather than encouraging the participants to learn from their mistakes, their actions were defended. Here we see a case of harassing the victim rather than encouraging the aggressors to take responsibility for their actions. It is important to learn from this event. As individuals, families and communities we frequently make mistakes and must decide how we face them. Do we shirk responsibility or do we hold each other responsible in a way that encourages growth and learning?
This story has certainly generated quite a bit of discussion over the past several weeks. What are your thoughts?

(Excerpted in part from NPR, September 20, 2013 & WGY, September 20, 2013)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Summerbridge High School Mentor Opportunity

             Since 1993, Sewickley Academy has been home to Summerbridge Pittsburgh, which serves students from low-income families by helping them realize their academic potential. Summerbridge plays a critical role in allowing these students to achieve their academic goals as they move through high school and towards their college years by providing them with support, connections and resources where similar opportunities would not otherwise be available.
Summerbridnge is not only an excellent opportunity for the students it assists, but also for high school and college students interested in pursuing careers in education and youth-services through job and volunteer opportunities. This year, Summerbridge is expanding its services through a high school mentoring program with the intention of generating more significant face time and interactions with their students throughout the school year. High School Mentors have the opportunity to be positive role models, advisers, sounding boards, and advocates for these student.
Mentors are assigned to mentor Summerbridge high school students at a designated Pittsburgh high school. Mentors will visit this high school once a month, during school hours in the school year (September – May), meeting individually with each of their students (approximately 10–15 students per high school). In these individual meetings, mentors will check students’ academic progress, collect report cards, advise on academic enrichment activities and the college search process, and provide other additional support per the request of the Summerbridge High School Program Director. Throughout the month, mentors will also conduct follow-up phone calls or emails with students and their families as needed. Approximate time commitment: 5–10 hours per month.
Mentors must also commit to one half-day training in September with Summerbridge staff members as well as monthly phone calls or meetings with the Summerbridge High School Program Director.

Requirements: Applicant must submit an application, Act 33/34 and FBI clearances, as well as an interview with Summerbridge staff.

If you are interested in applying to be a high school mentor, please visit:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A grieving father's words of warning for the young

BY KEVIN CASTLE | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER | | 276-645-2531 | Twitter: @BHCCastle | Updated 1 week

ABINGDON, Va. — Robert Goldsmith is preparing to celebrate
the short life of his only daughter Shelly.

He wants to talk about her love of others, her family and
the goals she set for herself.

But he must also cope with the tragic news that her death
was a result of her taking that one chance, that misstep out of the ordinary.

Shelley Goldsmith’s collapse inside a Washington, D.C.,
nightspot was likely caused by her taking a popular drug used in rave clubs,
her father said Friday, and he wants to warn parents and teenagers by using her
life as an example.

“This was an upbeat, high-achieving, well-rounded, active
young person who made a bad decision and died because of it,” Goldsmith said.
“But I want people to know that this is not the legacy we want for Shelly. She
was too giving of a person.”

In talking with friends who accompanied Shelley to
Echostage, the largest dance venue in the D.C. area in the Ivy City suburb,
they revealed to Goldsmith and to police that Shelly took one dose of the drug
called Molly upon arriving at the club, he said.

Shelley Goldsmith, 19, who had just started her second year
as a Jefferson Scholar at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, had
gone to the city to visit friends for the Labor Day weekend. She was pronounced
dead at a hospital shortly after collapsing at the club.

Molly is a form of the illegal substance known as ecstasy
that Dr. Melinda Campopiano, of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration, said comes in a powder or crystallized form that has added to
the interest in using it among the rave culture and in younger adults ages 18
to 30.

According to the Washington Post, authorities have launched
an investigation into whether Shelley received a lethal dose that may have come
from the same batch that was possibly distributed on the East Coast last
weekend and claimed the lives of two others, including another 19-year-old
female college student who died after taking the drug at the House of Blues in
Boston, Mass.

When taken, Campopiano says the drug provides an
overwhelming release of the same neurotransmitters in the brain that are
associated with addiction in general and with a person’s feeling of ecstasy
with the release of epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin.

The doctor also said that feelings of anxiety or depression
can also become apparent while the drug takes its toll on the body and those
symptoms can continue well after the high wears off.

“One dose will provide effects for three to six hours,” she

“People want to take this because of the feeling of
emotional warmth, closeness and energy and euphoric high it brings. Some
heighten it by chasing it with alcohol or marijuana. Even a moderate dose, a
single dose, can be toxic to the nerve cells of the brain and cause permanent
damage. It gives the person a sense of belonging in this mass of people dancing.

“People who take it a second time, the MDMA [chemical
contained in Molly] can build up in the blood. MDMA, once in your body,
interferes with your body’s ability to metabolize. There is no antidote for
clearing this drug out of your body. Some people get hyperthermia with a high
fever after taking it along with an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, organ
failure and then death.”

Robert Goldsmith, president and CEO of People Inc. of
Southwest Virginia, told the Associated Press earlier this week that his
daughter had a “heart or pulmonary attack” prior to her death, although D.C.
police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said in a police report that toxicology
reports would determine the official cause of death.

“We thought about keeping this from the public and others,
but we decided that telling her story could help warn others,” he said.

“I am positive that she probably didn’t feel like she was
putting herself in jeopardy. She wouldn’t do that. She loved life. She made a
bad decision and it cost her her life. The general thinking among college-age
people right now is that [Molly] is safe because it makes you feel better. The
word needs to get out that it can kill you.

“I don’t know if Shelley had done this one time or several
times,” Goldsmith continued. “That’s not important now. The word needs to get
out that this drug is not safe and the more that young people hear that, the
better off they will be. I hope colleges and universities get involved and
educate students about this drug. I don’t hold the University of Virginia
responsible for this, but they do have a chance now to improve things. But I am
not the only parent right now preparing for a funeral because of this drug.
This needs to be stopped.”