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Students work to ensure prom is a safe event for all

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SNOQUALMIE - The impact of an adult explaining the dangers of drinking and driving during prom season can sometimes be lost on students, but when an elementary school youngster writes a letter begging the teen not to get behind the wheel if they've been consuming alcohol, the message tends to stick.

This week Mount Si High School seniors received letters from Valley elementary students as part of a week-long series of events orchestrated by the school's Associated Student Body (ASB) Student Relations Committee aimed at keeping those students that might drink during the prom party season from getting behind the wheel.

Senior Carly Walsh, a member of the Student Relations Committee, said although the reality associated in the young student's message isn't always pleasant, seniors look forward to getting the letters.

"I think they do make a big impact," said Walsh.

Junior Marissa Hill said the committee, which also includes senior Erin Hart and parent volunteer Darla Kohlruss, began working on the events in late March. Other activities for the week include a mock DUI car crash, an informative assembly, a Prom Promise pledge drive and the placing of signs around students' necks who have "died" in an alcohol-related crash.

The mock car crash utilizes real students and local emergency response agencies. Once the students are extricated from the wreck, it is explained to the attendees what the victims will never get to do, such as marry and have children.

Prom Promise is a program sponsored by Nationwide Insurance that challenges students to consider the consequences of prom night alcohol use. Students signs a pledge committing themselves to not using drugs or alcohol on prom night.

According to Nationwide, more than 3,400 high schools in 38 states received commitments from more than 667,000 students during the 2002-2003 school year.

To illustrate the statistic that every 15 minutes somebody is killed in an alcohol-related car accident, members of the committee will assign one of their peers to dress as the Grim Reaper and remove a student from class at that interval. Those students will have their faces painted white and will not be able to talk to anybody the rest of the day.

The event, according to Walsh, is effective.

"You just see how many people from our school would've been dead by the end of the school day," said Walsh.

Travis Peterson can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at travis.peterson@valleyrecord.com.

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