Graduation season is upon us. Starting this week, thousands of high school seniors will begin preparing to walk across a stage to receive their diplomas.

It's a joyous time for most, the end of 13 years of education. It has become a rite of passage for most, even though more schooling awaits many.

A few seniors will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. Others will be the first in their families to attend college. Some, if they are lucky enough to find jobs, will immediately join the workforce. Still others will join the military and begin new lives at bases or on ships far from home.

Naturally, the inclination is to celebrate. Nothing marks the transition from childhood to adulthood quite as much as high school graduation.

There will be parties aplenty, some subdued and controlled, others wild and crazy.

It is the latter we worry most about. While certainly all graduates deserve the chance to celebrate and enjoy the occasion, too often graduation parties go too far. It seems most American parties these days involve alcohol, whether or not the young attendees are responsible enough to handle it.

High school graduates, of course, aren't old enough to legally drink, but that doesn't stop many of them. Teens consuming alcohol is nothing new, but unfortunately every year such consumption leads to tragic accidents, some on the roadways, some not.

As graduation ceremonies and parties kick into high gear in the coming weeks, we hope parents and students will remember to be responsible. If you're going to drink, don't drive. Make sure you have a designated driver. Better to have someone drive you home than to get behind the wheel and never make it home alive. Or worse yet, for you to cause an accident that leads to an innocent bystander's death.

And remember, overconsumption of alcohol can lead to illness and even death. According to a 2016 study by George Washington University's Center for Healthcare Innovation and Policy Research, emergency room visits for alcohol intoxication have increased more than 50 percent in the past decade.

For too long Americans have bought into the lie that you can't have fun without alcohol, whether at parties, sporting events, concerts or parks. Nothing can be further from the truth.

You don't need a buzz to enjoy yourself.  You don't need beer, wine or hard liquor to celebrate graduations or any other special occasion.

We congratulate all of this year's graduates! But please remember, your life is just starting. Don't let a lapse in judgment end it before it really begins.