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Teachers reflect on their risky high school experiences: Mr. Lyons

Written by Stina Chang

As economics teacher Phillip Lyons has been heard to say, white collar crime pays. As a high school student with no curfew, no rules and a fake ID, he had free reign to do whatever he wanted. “I [could] come and go whenever I wanted to,” Lyons said.

Parents often set specific rules for their kids to follow, and at first, Lyons’ parents were no different. “[My brother] broke those rules,” he said. “[My mom] would always have to fight him for all these things. By the time he graduated, she didn’t feel like having the same fights with me.”

After his brother left for college, his mom was too exhausted to enforce strict curfews and regulations for Lyons. “I could stay out as late as three or four in the morning,” he said, “It’s hard to get into trouble when there are no rules [anymore].”

During his junior and senior year, his older friends introduced him to the thrills of having a fake ID. While some teenagers were limited in activities to do on the weekends, Lyons and his friends would spend their nights clubbing without any problems. “We [would] go to clubs and bars to drink and dance,” Lyons said, “We were living a life like an adult rather than a teenager.”

Lyons did get caught eventually when he attempted to replace his lost ID at the DMV. “I filled out the form [at the DMV] and gave it to them, but I left the middle name blank,” he said. “The person said ‘you left the middle name blank, what’s the middle name’ and I said ‘I [didn’t] have one.’ They looked it up and it was John. They knew I was lying.”

Since Lyons never got into any fights with his parents, he never felt guilty about what he did. “To be honest, I don’t want to say there was nothing going on in my head,” Lyons said. “At that age I was just thinking of the benefits.”

Although Lyons disregarded his parents’ rules when he was younger, his teenage habits impacted how he raises his own kids. “Both my parents were just very hands-off,” Lyons said. “But with my kids, I would try to do something with them, so they won’t have five to ten hours of free time to do anything they wanted. For my own kids, I would just provide them with a little more structure, so they won’t make the mistakes I made.”

Looking back at his teenage years, Lyons has no desire to step into clubs again and says students shouldn’t be tempted to follow his lead. “There will be plenty of time to go to bars and clubs,” he said. “It can get old. There will be a time and place for it. You don’t need to rush into that stage.”

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