CHS students encouraged to remain safe and sober

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Democrat Photo/Lindsay Reed Visual reminder A group of 22 Cassville High School students served as visual reminders of the consequences of drinking and driving when their faces were painted white and they were asked to take a vow of silence for the school day on April 12. CHS SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) also held an assembly on Friday to introduce the Safe and Sober program and asked students to take a pledge to remain alcohol-free until they reach the age of 21.

On April 12, Cassville High School marked the start of this year's Safe and Sober effort with visual reminders of the consequences of drinking and driving. The Safe and Sober program challenges students to resist alcohol until they reach the legal drinking age, which is 21.

On Friday, every 15 minutes throughout the school day, a student was pulled from a classroom, his or her face was painted white and he or she completed the remainder of the school day under a vow of silence. The students served as visual reminders that someone dies in an alcohol-related crash every 15 minutes.

CHS SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) held an assembly in the high school gymnasium at the end of the day to remind students about the importance of not drinking and driving and explain the Safe and Sober pledge.

"You probably noticed something in the halls today," said Elaine Boles, CHS SADD advisor. "Look around you. Look to your left and your right. The person sitting there might not be here tomorrow or the day after.

"Anyone can die in a car crash," said Boles. "The white faces you have seen around you today signify that every 15 minutes somebody dies in an alcohol related crash. That could be your best friend."

SADD members read obituaries for several of the students who were selected to serve as visual reminders of drinking and driving.

"In 2012, there were 39,000 citations for drinking and driving," said Boles. "On average, an individual who is arrested for drinking and driving for the first time has driven drunk around 80 times before they were caught.

"These students are just a small drop in the bucket of what is happening every day," continued Boles. "Drinking and driving causes one-third of traffic fatalities in the United States. How would you feel if you killed somebody? How would you live with that?"

Nearly two dozen Cassville High School students with white faces stood on the gymnasium floor during the assembly. One of the students read the poem "Death of an Innocent," which is about a girl who chose not to drink at a party and on her way home was fatally injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver who had attended the same party.

SADD students also showed two videos, including one that was filmed during prom in 2012 and included still and video images from the docudrama held at the high school last spring.

Derek Judd, SADD advisor, reported that Safe and Sober is no longer just about prom night.

"It's also no longer just for upperclassmen," said Judd. "It's for ninth through 12th grade students, and when you sign the pledge you are pledging to remain safe and sober until you are 21."

Judd encouraged all of the students to pick up a pledge card, sign it and return it to the school.

"It's against the law to drink before you are 21," said Boles. "It doesn't matter what you have done before today. It doesn't matter what you did this morning. Think about your future."

Safe and Sober, a non-profit organization, creates awareness about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and encourages teens to lead a safe and sober lifestyle. The program was founded in 2004 by Springfield attorney Kurt Larson as Safe and Sober Prom Night.

The Safe and Sober program provides education to parents about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and offers materials that help parents talk to their children about drugs and alcohol and set limits and expectations for their teens.

By taking the Safe and Sober pledge students commit to their family, friends and selves that they will remain safe and sober until they are 21 years of age. A parent or guardian must also sign the pledge to acknowledge that they are aware of the commitment that has been made by the student.

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