Getting dressed up for prom and sharing this special event with classmates should be nothing but a time of joy. Sadly, teenage drinking and texting while driving continues to cast a shadow on what should be a grand celebration. This is an unfortunate reality of life across American high schools that AYA students may encounter firsthand.
AYA students may not be allowed to drive—and they certainly know they are not allowed to drink alcohol—but the danger of texting while driving and student drinking at prom pose a threat to everyone’s physical and emotional health.
Fatima, a YES student from Lebanon, submitted the following about her experience with efforts to encourage responsible student behavior to prevent tragedy from ruining prom. As you read her story, we hope you will do everything in your power to ensure a safe and festive prom season for high school students in hometowns across the U.S.
Teenage deaths during prom season increase every year, and the two main causes are texting while driving and drunk driving. Therefore, my host mother came up with the idea of Prom Promise 3 years ago with her first exchange student and decided to carry on her legacy for the following years. I was honored to be a part of Prom Promise this year.
Teenagers make the Prom Promise to their family, school and friends that they will not commit a crime to themselves or to the people around them by drunk driving or texting while driving on prom night. We started our awareness by hanging dramatic posters all around the school with statements like, “Don’t let underage drinking ruin your prom,” and “Your life is worth it, the text is not! IT CAN WAIT.”
Moreover, we wanted to come up with an idea that would make the teenagers feel obliged to be anti-text drivers. So, we decided that each student could take a pledge and then would receive a thumb ring that would remind them not to text and drive. With my classmate Shahzaib, an exchange student from Pakistan, I built a booth during lunch at Hannah Pamplico High School where the students could sign their names and take the pledge.
The 27th of March came and so did the Prom Promise assembly. The exchange students from South Carolina who decided to be a part of the Prom Promise came to Hannah Pamplico High School dressed up in prom attire to be a part of a huge Mock DUI assembly.
The morning began by getting a damaged car and placing it on the school campus. To make the event even more dramatic, I laid across the windshield in my prom dress acting dead, while another student laid across the ground with the Pamplico EMS service helping her. We also asked some of the exchange students to pretend they were crying to add even more drama. Hannah Pamplico Students were stunned. They had goose bumps all over their bodies, which I thought was a sign of the effect this assembly had on them.
After the assembly, the students were sent to the gym and were shown a video played by Neil Poston, from highway patrol, which showed the effect of drunk driving and had an obvious impact on the students. Hence, the students took the pledge all at one time. At this point I felt so proud of Hannah Pamplico High School students and even faculty members, because even though we all go in different directions during a school day we were united by a very touching cause.
Prom Promise was an amazing experience which I believed would be a great start to make a change in our lives. It helps every student avoid impulsive and possibly regretful consequences that might change their lives forever.
—Fatima, YES student, Lebanon