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10 Cape students suspended after alcohol charges

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10 Cape students suspended after alcohol charges

Teenagers charged at Maine Drama Festival 

CAPE ELIZABETH — Ten Cape Elizabeth High School students have been suspended, school officials said, after a group was charged with underage drinking at the Maine Drama Festival Class B finals on March 21 at Rockland District High School.

Eight students were charged by Rockland police Saturday night; two others later came forward to Cape Elizabeth school officials. All face two days of suspension under the school's substance abuse policy.

A 17-year-old Cape Elizabeth girl was taken to Penobscot Bay Medical Center for treatment of possible alcohol poisoning and released to her parents, according to Rockland Deputy Police Chief Wally Tower.

Five juveniles and three adults – 18-year-olds Nicholas Martin, Brandon Meagher and Marcus Goldbas – received summonses for possession of alcohol by consumption and were released by Rockland police, Tower said. The juveniles were given cards asking their parents to contact the Police Department and will be expected to enter pleas in Knox County District Court. Dates for those hearings have not been set.

Tower said he wasn't sure if police were called to the scene or if they were already at the drama festival last weekend. But he said that at around 11 p.m. they found several drunk Cape Elizabeth students in the auditorium. He said police do not know how the students obtained the alcohol or what they were drinking; consumption charges mean the students had consumed the alcohol before police arrived.

All eight students, and the two who came forward this week, were suspended from school for two days under the district's substance abuse policy. Usually first offenses call for four days of suspension, but that period was reduced to two days because students agreed to see the school's guidance counselor. Students will also be held out from some future extracurricular performances.

High school Principal Jeff Shedd said Wednesday that the incident has not been discussed publically with other students or parents, but that school administrators are thinking about how they might address it.

Shedd also said that the students involved are working together to see if they can make something positive out of circumstances in which "they know they screwed up." Though nothing has been finalized, he said the students are trying to organize a way of working with younger students, "opening up a conversation around substance abuse."

Similar work came from last year's "Cape 10" incident. After 10 seniors vandalized the high school, the "Senior to Senior" volunteer program was established for high school seniors to help elderly citizens as part of their required community service work. That program has been continued for other students' participation.

This year's Maine Drama Festival involved performances of one-act plays by 84 high schools from across the state.

Cape Elizabeth sent 40 students to participate in the festival's Class B finals.

Their performance of the one-act play, "Of Mice and Men," would have taken second place at the festival, but because of the incident, the entire theater ensemble was bused back to Cape Elizabeth and the school withdrew from the competition, making Maine Central Institute the runner-up and alternate if winner Yarmouth High School chooses not to attend the New England finals next month.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or strent@theforecaster.net.