Holiday Sondheim

December 15, 2015

Dear Redwood Parents/Guardians,

Holiday Gratitude and Living the Life In Marin. With the holiday season approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot how fortunate we are to live in Marin County. Like everyone, I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends over winter break and enjoying the holiday festivities in this beautiful county.

As you may know, our community’s binge drinking, alcohol and other drug use rates are among the highest in the state – for both teens and adults. The holiday season is a good time to remember the importance of modeling healthy behavior with respect to our own alcohol and drug use. Our teens are watching, often more than we realize.

Having been a Tam District high school teacher, assistant principal, and now principal for 25 years, I am familiar with teen alcohol and drug use in Marin. We are very fortunate to have organizations in our community that are working hard to keep students healthy and safe, including our new Wellness Center, the PTSA and the Twin Cities Coalition for Healthy Youth. These staff members and volunteers are working together to raise awareness on the topic of alcohol and other drug use through parent education events and other programs.

Be the Influence. One of these programs is the Redwood PTSA’s “Be the Influence” Pledge and Online Directory. Described at, this program is premised on the fact that parents are still the biggest influence in their teens’ lives – both positively and negatively. And although it is appropriate to give teens some degree of freedom and independence, they still need our supervision and engagement. Our Be the Influence program gives parents the tools to continue to monitor their teens and be a positive influence in their lives. If you haven’t joined this program, I encourage you to do so before the holidays, especially if you are going to be in town over New Year’s Eve.

Parties. Last year, I circulated an excellent letter written by the Deans of Students at Marin Catholic regarding parties, emphasizing the parental responsibilities that essentially are outlined in our Be the Influence Pledge. It may be viewed at c27a-498b-8076-2c50e2495200

Legal Liability for Underage Drinking. It is also important to remember that towns and municipalities in Marin have Social Host Ordinances. These laws impose legal liability as described on the Twin Cities Coalition website at . Many towns strictly enforce these ordinances, regardless of whether the parent is at home or in town or not. If you are going to be out of town, it is advisable to contact your local police departments for a “vacation check” to safeguard against underage drinking and drug use on your property while you are away. As an example, the Central Marin Police Authority’s protocols are described at .

Parenting Tips. For additional parenting tips on Preventing Childhood Alcohol Use (which also applies to other drugs) by NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse go to and from the Twin Cities Coalition for Healthy Youth, visit their website and review their Top 10 Tips for Parents at    .

Videotaped Past Parent Ed Events on Marijuana. With today’s marijuana strains being significantly more potent than was the case in our youth and even five years ago, it is important to be up to date on the unique health risks to adolescents whose brains are developing. Two highly informative parent event events from this past fall were videotaped: “How to Speak to Your Teen about Marijuana” and “Weed 101: Smart Approaches to Marijuana”. They can both be viewed at presentations-of-past-events/ .

Upcoming Parent Education Events: Stay tuned for dates and details on two relevant Parent Education events including “Teen Health, Relationships and Sex: the Facts, the Myths and How to Communicate with your Teen” and “Teens and the Law: What Parents Need to Know to Keep their Teen out of Trouble”.

Redwood HS Bark Article. Finally, we can learn so much from our own students who navigate these issues. Below is an insightful opinion piece in our Bark newspaper, on parental drinking, from the little league bleachers and around the kiddie pools to gatherings at home. If you haven’t read it already, please do so at      .

The article ends with this poignant reminder:

Marin youth “should be able to look to their parents for guidance – and parents should know that when they’re under the influence, their children can be influenced too.”

Together with Assistant Principals Katy Foster, Larry Pratt and LaSandra White, we wish you and your families the happiest, healthiest and safest of holidays in December and throughout the New Year.

David Sondheim

Mail Attachment

Principal, Redwood High School

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