By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — Graduation season is here and the Class of 2018 is ready to celebrate the end of their high school days.

“To the Class of 2018, I offer you my congratulations,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart. “I hope that you have safe, fun-filled graduation parties.”

Graduation day, he said is also known as “freedom day” as the students move on with their lives as they enter the workforce, go to college or join the military.

And as they begin their celebrations, Lenhart cautions them to be safe as they attend or host a graduation party.

“The two highest safety risk days for teens are prom night and graduation night,” said Lenhart. “Don’t give in to peer pressure to do something. We want our graduates to have fantastic parties because for some, this will be the last time they will see one another as they head off to college or the military.”

Underage consumption of alcohol can be a problem at graduation parties, he said.

“The National Highway Transportation Agency said 300 teens died in 2017 on these two events (prom and graduation) and alcohol was involved. Six people were killed in Ohio and 560 injured in 2017.”

He said the best way to ensure there is no underage consumption of alcohol at a graduation party is to ban it from the event.

“But we live in Shelby County, and we realize there is going to be alcohol at the parties,” said Lenhart. “If you are going to serve alcohol, put signage up stating the person must be 21 to be served. Have an adult supervise the area where the alcohol is located.

“The parent hosting the party is both civilly and criminally liable if someone at the party is hurt, injured or killed and the person has been drinking,” said Lenhart.

Lenhart also shared some tips for hosting a successful party.

“Contact your neighbors to let them know when the party will be. Tell them there will be noise and make sure parking arrangements have been made,” said Lenhart. “If there is a problem, have the neighbor come to you so it can be solved.

“If you have uninvited guests arrive at your party, ask them to leave,” said Lenhart. “Make sure you put all gift cards in a secured area. In the past, we have received calls where someone has stolen all the cards.”

If there is alcohol being served at the party, make sure there is a designated driver available in case someone does drink too much, said Lenhart.

“Or have them stay the night,” said Lenhart. “Don’t let anyone drive if they are drunk.”

And if you are the designated driver, make sure everyone buckles up their seat belts “and drive the speed limit,” he said.

“If you have an issue at the party, don’t hesitate to call us,” said Lenhart. “We’d rather be invited to the party than to respond to it after something tragic happens.”

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.