My High School Principal Was Busted For Drugs and I’m Not Surprised
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My High School Principal Was Busted For Drugs and I’m Not Surprised

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high school principalLook, high school is a pretty fucked up time for most of us, amIright? All those hormones and insecurities and hair growing in unwanted places and whatnot is enough to destroy most of us on a good day. But I’ve long stood by the fact that my high school experience was more fucked up than most. With the news that the principal of my alma mater, Thomas “Woody” Price, was arrested on Friday in a hotel room with a collection of meth and coke as well as a passed-out 21-year-old lady friend, can I finally get confirmation of this?

I went to a school called Branson in Ross, California—arguably the most beautiful town in Marin County, widely considered one of the most beautiful counties in the world. I had no idea what I was getting into when I went there; I was 12 years old…I didn’t know what I was getting into anywhere. I had graduated from the most fantastic grammar school imaginable, Marin Country Day School in Corte Madera, and, like many others, went on to Branson. I expected to continue to learn and grow and love the experience.

That wasn’t the deal at Branson. The teachers weren’t the loving, encouraging sort of folks I’d learned from at MCDS; they were bombastic, pedantic, occasionally abusive. Any attempts I ever made to study those things I wanted to were shut down; I remember they offered creative writing one year and I tried everything in my power to get in that class but wasn’t allowed to register. I’d wanted to be a writer since the age of six and had many friends in that class who had no interest in writing but had heard creative writing would be easy. Have I mentioned that this is a school that charges roughly $40K a year?

Still, let’s be clear: I was a brat—a brat with a burgeoning addiction problem as it turned out. And well, Branson was a pretty good place for that. My freshman year, a friend of mine told me that if my parents still insisted on hiring a “babysitter” when they went out of town, there was a woman I should make them call because she would let me have as many parties as I wanted. I obviously delivered the information to my parents as quickly as possible and so, the next time they went away, I had my entire high school ever for a rager that was remembered fondly for years; mirrors were taken off walls for coke use, cases of beers were consumed, cops arrived…the whole nine. My “babysitter” was totally cool with the whole arrangement; she, in fact, was off at Dead shows the duration of my family’s trip so she never even had to witness the damage. This was all so cool that I talked my parents into continuing to hire her for every trip they went on after. The button to this? By my senior year, this woman had been hired by Branson as a math teacher—a cool thing, since she already knew many of the kids from the parties of mine she had managed to attend between Dead shows.

Branson wasn’t a typical school. We didn’t have a football team. We didn’t have cheerleaders. Most everyone I knew, myself included, left regularly during the school day to smoke pot. One weekend, I passed on an invite to an ecstasy party—a good thing, I learned, when I got a call from my then-boyfriend later the day of the party. Turns out a couple of the guys there had done acid as well as ecstasy, one of them had thought the other was the devil and called 911 to report the matter and…well, one thing led to another and all the kids were arrested and also taken to Marin County General to have their stomachs pumped. My boyfriend and his friend had managed to convince the cops that they were the two people there who weren’t on drugs and so I was their getaway car. I still remember being parked outside the ecstasy party house, seeing it taped off and wondering if this was the kind of high school experience other people were having.

Amidst this hellish excuse for a high school, there was one teacher that made a difference. He was the only person, save for some MCDS teachers I had long forgotten by then, who told me I might be worth something. He was, not to be dramatic, my lifeline (have I mentioned that my dad was busted for embezzlement during those years and that this news was splattered all over the papers?). I reached out to this teacher about 10 years ago and told him how much the encouragement he’d given me then had meant and we ended up meeting for coffee. Turned out he was, as the lingo goes, one of us after struggling with addiction during those years when he was teaching me and thus saving my life. I’m grateful for that—and for him.

Of course, you don’t need to have a principal who squires 21-year-old ladies off to hotel rooms for drug binges on school days to have a shitty high school experience. It’s just that as a kid (especially if you’re the sort of sheltered kid that goes to a school like Branson), you don’t really know you’re in a toxic environment because you don’t have anything to compare it to. I, for one, didn’t understand that I could have transferred to another school and salvaged some of my soul during my formative years. And though I don’t think Branson High School made me into an addict, I do believe we are born with a genetic predisposition to addiction that our circumstances can either exacerbate or diminish and Branson exacerbated my precondition more than any other school could have. So if high schoolers or their parents are reading this, I say listen to those instincts and get somewhere better. After all, would you want to hear years after the fact that the principal of your alma mater was arrested for drug possession and not be remotely surprised?

Photo courtesy of News10

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About Author

Anna David is the founder and former CEO/Editor-in-Chief of After Party. She hosts the Light Hustler podcast, formerly known as the AfterPartyPod. She's also the New York Times-bestselling author of the novels Party Girl and Bought and the non-fiction books Reality Matters, Falling For Me, By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There and True Tales of Lust and Love. She's written for numerous magazines, including Playboy, Cosmo and Details, and appeared repeatedly on the TV shows Attack of the Show, The Today Show and The Talk, among many others.