I went to The Pennington School in my home town of Pennington, New Jersey for both middle school and high school. It was a very small private prep school that was actually closer to my house than my local high school. The high school had about 400 kids, with about 100 kids in the middle school. My graduating class was about 90, which grew from the 20 of us when I was in 6th grade. There were very few of us that made it through from 6th grade to graduation, just 13 kids and one who left after 6th grade and then came back junior year. We were lifers. One of those kids was Dane Kunkle. He was funny kid, tall, smart, good looking, but he was one of those kids that acted like an inner-city black kid, despite being a very wealthy white kid from Pennsylvania suburbs. However, he was always nice to me, and he was one of my better friends throughout those seven years. Towards the end of high school he started to drop the ghetto act, and started acting a bit more like a frat boy, but one thing became very apparent: he was one of the hardest workers that I had ever met.

Sophomore year Dane put a rap video out on Youtube under the name DJ Kunks, and it quickly spread around the school. Not because it was good, but because it was hilarious. It wasn't really meant to be good. The rhymes varied between funny and intentionally terrible. It was all filmed on an iPhone in one take with absolutely no editing, so there were a lot of mistakes and poor deliveries left in. Soon after a second video was released, but this one was more of a community effort. A ton of his friends helped him write it. They spent weeks coming up with the best rhymes that they could and just throwing them together without much thought to the order. The video was done in the same terrible style, but featured a massive posse of other white kids from my school and guest appearances of random girls from my school. A highlight from that video was when vacuum was rhymed with shazoom. Dane made a third video with actual editing, visually it was actually really good, and the performance was quite a bit better, although not particularly good. The actual lyrics remained about at the same terrible level. That video was actually theatrically released at my school, during a movie night. Those terrible videos were the bizarre start down the path to what would become the Beach Glow music festival.

First Blog

Aug. 29th, 2014 05:03 pm
Well this is my first blog. My name is Sam Spencer and I am from Princeton New Jersey. I am actually a direct descendant of the Spencer house in England, which means I am related to Winston Churchill and Princes Diana, as well as being a direct descendant of Charlemagne. I am also a direct descendant of Thomas McKean, a signer of declaration of Independence, delegate to the Continental Congress, President of Congress, President of Delaware, and Governor of Pennsylvania.

Ok, all that's great, but considering we live in the United States that doesn't really mean anything to anyone. What is more relevant to my life is my family. My dad started is own software company back in the 80's. His programs forecasts demand, schedules production, and manages inventory for about 40% of the beverages produced in the world, with his primary clients being Coca Cola and Pepsi. My mom use to work for pharmaceutical companies before she started helping my dad with his company. When she started doing it full time she became CFO, vice president, and co-owner. My sister is the head of the family department of the Caron, a detox and rehab center. She is a recovering alcoholic going on 5 years sober. A big part of her job is explaining to the family members of the people being treated what their family members are going through and making sure they understand alcoholism because very few people do. My brother works at Freedom House which is an organization associated with the State Department, and aids people in Middle Eastern countries who are having their human rights threatened. My brother's job is to investigate the claims that people are making to make sure that their reports are legitimate. He speaks fluent Arabic and lived in Egypt for three years.

My sister being an alcoholic is one of the few reasons that I don't drink. Not drinking, especially at a school like Purdue can be quite difficult. While not true for everyone who doesn't drink, for me it can really limit who I am able to make friends with. While there are plenty of people on campus who drink lightly, for the vast majority of people that I have interacted with so far during my time at Purdue, their primary focus during every weekend is to find a party or situation where they can drink. Many kids I know who were like this still would like to do plenty of different fun things during the weekend, but most of it was while drinking. Most of this included wandering around, trying to climb things, and playing games until the alcohol gets to them and they just can't anymore. The way I see it is that people want to do the stuff that they used to like to do when they were younger, like hanging out with friends and just wandering around, but it is no longer fun for them, so in order for them to enjoy that stuff again they have to do it while drunk. That's not true for everyone I know, but it seems applicable to my old high school friends who I have been with when they have made the transition to not being able to enjoy the things they use to like unless they are drunk. I use to be able to hang out with these people while they were going out on their drunken adventures, and it's not like I never had fun, but eventually being the only sober one in the group starts to wear on you. It changes your own perception of yourself in the group, and while people will still work to make you feel included, you can tell that your place in the group has changed. You are a peripheral member.

When I first got to Purdue a year ago, I had no trouble meeting other kids that didn't drink. Many of the other freshman were fellow teetotalers, for a variety of different reasons, but regardless of their motivation, be it religious, philosophy, or personal experience, everyone, and I mean every single one of them were drinking by the end of the first semester, and pretty much all of them are drastically different people since they have started. I watched it destroy a couple of their lives incredibly quickly. One girl, this incredibly brilliant person, came in top of her class, class president, varsity soccer captain. She did a ton of charity work, despite being in a very lower class family. She had to work two jobs all the way through high school, and managed all of her finances and had to essentially raise her self due to inattentive parents. I never met a more mature person, a person who could really handle themselves. She came to Purdue to become a chemical engineer. She had this folder that was filled with inventions that she was going to patent after she graduated that she was going to make her livelihood on, and she wouldn't let anyone see them. I don't know what was in there but I believed she knew what she was talking about. I thought that if there was ever a person who was going to succeed in college it would be her, but then she started drinking. That marked the start an incredible landslide decline. By the end of the year she was on academic probation, social probation, and just plain ol' regular probation, had her drivers license suspended, was being sued by her big, was smoking pot 5 or 6 times a week, was sleeping around(I don't usually care about whether girl is doing this or not, but when combined with everything else I do think that it helps to paint a picture) had been fired from her job (which, along with being sued, meant that she couldn't afford an to attend school during the summer despite having already signed a lease to an apartment in West Lafayette), alienated almost all of her friends, had gotten alcohol poisoning, failed calc 1 twice, failed engineering 162, was charged with plagiarism twice. She actually met the conditions to be dropped from Purdue but was able to convince someone to give her one last chance. She had let go of her dream of being an entrepreneurial chemical engineer and had to drop out of Engineering for Professional Writing. Granted, that is not a normal situation, and I don't believe it was just the alcohol that did that to her, but it was more a case of someone who never had experienced any real failures and thought that they couldn't go wrong, and once she started to fall she had no idea how to stop and pick herself back up. However, most of the people who I know who have started drinking are doing just fine, but I have seen it really destroy a life here and there.

I have found that the best people for me to make friends with when it comes to that persons relationship with alcohol are not actually people who are like me and don't drink at all, but rather people have tried drinking and only drink very occasionally. Those people are perfectly fine with hanging out and not drinking, and can hang out with people who are drinking but usually prefer not to. They also are much less likely to pull a complete 180 and become very heavy drinkers.

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September 2014

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