WHY END IT IN A DRUNKEN SPREE
By JENI FAULKNER
GLEN Cassidy, 18, and his mates can't escape from their excitement.
In just three days these former Coffs Harbour students will be heading on a road trip to Schoolies, filling the car with little clothing, enough cash to get by, and loads of alcohol for an eight-day party fest on the Gold Coast.
"We are getting out of school and getting into the real world. We are probably going to drink a lot and we are not too concerned about the crowds because we watch our backs," Glen said.
Hundreds of thousands of Year 12 school-leavers from Queensland and NSW swarm to the Gold Coast each year to celebrate the end of 13 years of education, many of them not yet old enough to be considered an adult.
Jay Ellington is a couple of weeks shy of his 18th birthday, so is his friend Tom Melrose, but they say this won't deter them from having a good time.
All the boys expect a lot of 'non memories', and maybe waking up not knowing where they've been. But they have a simple pact for the week that one will always stay sober to look after the rest, that, and they don't take drugs.
Jay's father, Ray, is happy about the friends his son will be partying with but he isn't comfortable about the overall concept of Schoolies.
"My son is not 18 yet so he hasn't had any experience with pub life," Mr Ellington said.
"But as a parent you've just got to let them go to experience it. You just hope they will do the right thing.
"All these guys look after each other and they are staying at one of the boy's relatives so someone will be able to keep an eye on them."
Stephanie Greacen, 18, plans on following her friends north on Sunday. She's already been given the parent warning about drink spiking, her only worry though is 'toolies' crashing her fun.
"It's the people who are older and those in gangs that ruin everything. Most of the problems you read about come from those who aren't even part of the event," Stephanie said.
Jess, who didn't wish to offer her last name, is turning 18 the day she plans to arrive at Schoolies. She will crash on the couch of a friend's apartment and plans to watch her drinking.
Originally she had planned to go to Bali but at her parents' request she chose the Gold Coast instead.
"Everyone deserves Schoolies. We have worked for 13 years and we want to have fun," Jess said.
"I don't see the point in going out and getting really drunk. Drinking to have fun is what I will be doing."