Not All Schoolies Are Out To Get Smashed

10/12/2015 5:28 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Sergio Dionisio via Getty Images
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 21: Graduating year 12 students celebrate during the opening night of Schoolies week in Surfers Paradise on November 21, 2008 on the Gold Coast, Australia. Schoolies is the annual celebration by year 12 students following the culmination of their HSC exams. The celebrations happen in several official locations throughout Australia, but the Gold Coast kicks off the celebrations as the Queensland exams finish ahead of all other states. (Photo by Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images)

Aristotle said of 'the young': Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning... All their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently.

This couldn't be more evident during Schoolies Week.

Booze. Arrests. Drugs. Assaults. Spew. Noise. Trashed hotel rooms... Teenagers hovering somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, take a week-long reprieve of their senses following their final school exams.

It's that time of year again, when schoolies pack up their beer bongs and newspapers are flooded with angry letters. 'Time to take a stand against schoolies,' wrote one Rockhampton resident to The Morning Bulletin, pleading 'Save our children'.

'It is getting so bad that even police are giving up,' wrote another in a Queensland Times op-ed piece 'Schoolies antics shows society out of control.'

It's tempting to forge sides: 'us' and 'them'. Especially when your town doubles in size with horny and hopeful teenagers, making every hour at the tattoo shop happy hour.

Byron Bay's population of 9,000 swells five-fold come summertime, over 10,000 of which accounts for school-leavers, pouring in from late November to mid-December. Byron is well-prepared, with the Schoolies HUB on main beach, complete with ping-pong table, pancakes, chai and vintage band-style posters warning against the dangers of Chlamydia.

HUB volunteer Nicqui Yazdi said school-leavers choose Byron over the Gold Coast for a 'chilled out' time. Still, Byron schoolies ruffle feathers. They clog up Woolworths lines and roads, carting sausages and bread to their rentals. They cover main beach in noisy clusters. They stop Johns Street foot traffic to pose for photos. They wear loud printed t-shirts. All teenaged, but hardly offensive behaviour. This is their time.

But for every drunken kid pissing on your KIA, another is making a good decision.

Two schoolies used their week-long hall pass in the sun to raise money for charity. On November 28th, Waverley College students Alexi Piovano and Adam Hegedus arrived to Byron from Bondi -- on foot -- raising almost $18,000 for their fund for Timor-Leste. The town greeted them with a party in their honour, supported by local business Fishheads.

The party sent a clear message from Byron to schoolies: we support you. "We're here to give school leavers the information and opportunity to make good decisions themselves," said Nicqui Yazdi.

Schoolies Week began in the 1970s at Broadbeach, Queensland. Since then, Schoolies has extended across Australia and, in recent years, to Bali, Indonesia and Thailand. And according to 2015 statistics, the 50,000 school-leavers descending on the Gold Coast are some of the best behaved on record, with first-week incidents down 60% from last year.

Aristotle said: The young have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things -- and that means having exalted notions.

Until life slaps them in the face, let them party.

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