In the past year and a half, seven Pali High students have died violently in incidents involving alcohol, drugs or cars. The school now has what may be the first Alcoholic Anonymous chapter on an American high-school campus.
This is hardly your tough inner-city school. Pali High sits on a privileged plateau overlooking the Pacific Ocean in a community of mostly wealthy, welleducated parents. It is not one of those enclaves of old money, but a suburb of achievers—doctors, lawyers, entertainment figures—parents who work hard and, yes, often play hard. It is a place where students are given fast cars on their 16th birthdays and have easy access to drink and drugs.
There are suburbs like this all over the nation. . . .
The students I talked to said there is absolutely no school spirit, zero. They didn't have much use for Pacific Palisades either, they said, no community loyalty. They dismissed it as a bland, moneyed place where no one had roots, one of those end-of-the-rainbow Western suburbs where dreams were supposed to come true and people were angry when they didn't, a place where there was nothing to do on weekends but party, or "rage" as they call it. . .
"I just don't think there were enough limits," he said. "Everybody's parents were trying to be so cool. . ."