Bartlett Yancey High School observed “Safe and Sober Week” last week to prepare for the upcoming end of the year prom formal. Educational activities and themed decorations were arranged and coordinated mainly by students.
According to Emily Reagan, Grade 10-12 chemistry teacher and senior class advisor, the senior class officers were allowed to choose from a list of state-approved initiatives and they chose “Safe and Sober Prom,” drug and alcohol education.
“In the U.S., the world, and everywhere we lose a lot of people, a lot of loved ones, due to [drunk and impaired driving]. This stuff ain’t fiction,” said Senior Class President Davis Fowlkes.
On Thursday, the senior class officers hosted a field day for BY juniors and seniors with Bob Owen of Crash Prevention Network N.C. providing the edutainment.
Dribbling soccer balls around cones, handling basketballs, walking lines, and shooting soccer balls into goals were all made more difficult with Owen’s beer goggles, specially lensed glasses that mimicked the visual impairment from the various stages of blood alcohol levels.
Also available was a drunk driving simulator, a car seat fixed to a steel frame with steering wheel and video screen. Participants buckled up, signaled, and tried not to swerve or crash. A digital narrator alerted the drivers to their mistakes and video of actual officers, judges, and EMTs illustrated the real dangers of drunk and impaired driving.
According to Fowlkes, drunk and impaired driving has been normalized and even celebrated in movies and stories, but the realities of the consequences are far too real. Just because one managed to get home once under those conditions doesn’t guarantee they’ll do it again, he said.
“Prom’s coming up. That’s a big time for us, but a lot people around the world show up at prom drunk and try to leave prom drunk,” he said. “Getting them through these obstacle courses and [showing] how this really impairs their motor movements will hopefully change their mind and give them a new insight to it.”
Assistant Principal Charlie Hudson said, “These student leaders have really taken to their education and training on the simulations. They’ve learned and know what to expect, what to say. They aren’t going to say, ‘Just come out and have fun.’ They’re actually giving their fellow students a big alternative to thinking drunk driving at their age is no big deal, while proving it with simulation. They can see that [drinking] does change your mindset, the way you see things, and your equilibrium. It changes it all. These student leaders have been instrumental in putting that together.”
Representatives from Poe Center for Health Education, Raleigh, were guest presenters Tuesday.
“They talked to us about addiction to drugs and alcohol, and the severities of it. Then they basically had everybody pledge to be safe and sober during prom,” said Fowlkes.
The senior class officers raised money to provide free t-shirts to those seniors who signed the pledge cards.
Senior class treasurer Immanuel Martin said Royal Textile Fabrics off Fire Tower Road provided the shirts and other major contributors included AAJ Construction, K.B. Hamlett Insurance Co., North Village Pharmacy, Country Auto Repair, Crash Prevention Network, Caswell Insurance Services Inc., and ESK Buildings.
Senior class officers also hosted a senior breakfast, with Bojangles and other goods.
“This goes along with the PBIS system, a structural behavior system we have here at BY,” said Fowlkes. “We use the Bucs motto, ‘Be prepared; use your time wisely; come to school prepared; and keep a safe school.’ Every nine weeks we have a PBIS assembly. It just so happens that juniors and seniors were able to spend their day out here doing these activities and learning to their PBIS system. We’re getting to the end of the school year and just like Spring Break, we haven’t had a break since Christmas, so we’re trying to send them off on a good note.”
Owen is a 47-year educator and professor at Elon University.
Royal Textile Fabrics, 336-694-4121, is located on Fire Tower Road.
The Safe Sober Prom Night Program was founded in 1991 to encourage teens to stay safe and drug and alcohol free during prom. Over 450 high schools in North and South Carolina have participated in the program since its inception, totaling more than 500,000 students signing the Safe Sober pledge. Schools that participate may become eligible for Safe and Sober grants up to over $45,000.
Bartlett Yancey High School Prom is Saturday, May 4.