by: Ben Lahmann, Riley Suszkiw, and Aidan Vogts
In the week leading up to Glenelg’s prom on April 30, the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club planned a schedule of anti-drunk-driving activities to deter students from drunk driving, as well as other destructive actions.
“The activities throughout the week were effective because no one got into a crash following prom,” said Steve Willingham, Glenelg’s School Resource Officer and SADD club sponsor. “It was important for students to understand the severity of driving under the influence and I felt that goal was accomplished.”
At the beginning of the week, SADD set up a drunk driving simulator. Two cars were parked in front of the cafeteria, each containing a computer and Virtual Reality system, creating a safe simulation for students to experience driving under the influence. The objective was not to make students fear prom night, but rather for them to know the dangers of drunk driving, and to prevent them from making destructive decisions.
“It was a learning experience, and it made me more aware of tunnel vision and blurriness,” senior Dayna Rhomann said.
Even the few students who passed the simulation felt they had little input in the handling of the simulation, like senior Madeline D’Antuono, SADD club president, who said she felt like she had zero control and was only able to pass by luck rather than skill.
Two days after the drunk driving simulator, SADD set up a full-day activity where seniors were selected to put on face paint that resembled a skull to symbolize becoming a “ghost.” Once the student was chosen, they couldn’t speak and wore a shirt explaining how they “died.”
Though some said they saw this as a dreary way to get a point across, they agreed it was effective. Senior Jackson Hufman said he was “devastated that he couldn't communicate with his friend.” Huffman felt that “it really represents the lurking death of a loss of a friend to drunk driving.”
On Friday, April 29, SADD organized an assembly for all juniors, seniors, and prom-goers, highlighted by Nancy Davis’ talk about her son, Steven Dankos, a River Hill student, who died in a drunk driving accident following a party in 2009.
Davis said the intention of telling the story was not to scare but to bring awareness to what could happen to any student at any school if they were to drive or ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It is a message that officer Willingham wishes wouldn’t have to be told year after year, but he said it is one that will continue to be spread so long as it helps save lives.