RHS students witness mock crash prior to prom
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Thu., May. 26, 2011
On May 25 – just two days before the senior prom – Rockville High School juniors and seniors witnessed a gritty, realistic portrayal of a drunk-driving accident on Loveland Hill Road, right in front of the school.
Students from the school’s advanced acting class played accident victims and their friends in a realistic-looking scene that depicted a fatality victim (played by student Alyssa McDonald), the field sobriety test and arrest of a drunk driver (played by Alex Fowler) and injuries to passengers (played by Katie Keune and Kassandra Wemmell, as the driver of the other car involved in the mock accident).
Members of the Town of Vernon Fire Department, the Vernon Police Department, Vernon Emergency Medical Services, Leville's Auto Recycling and Ladd-Turkington & Carmon Funeral Home also assisted in making the accident scene appear realistic.
Members of the Peer Advocate and Students Seeking New Achievements Positively (SSNAP) group wore white face makeup and unveiled the scene. The same students remained in costume for the rest of the day, without speaking to anyone, in order to represent the teen lives lost across the country to drunk driving.
After the mock scene, RHS Resource Officer Earl Middleton gave a presentation in the auditorium, including a graphic video of the poor decisions that lead up to a drunk driving crash and some actual drunk driving incidents.
He also focused on the effects of an underage drunk driving arrest (fines, length of time that licenses can be suspended, legal fees, difficulty getting into college with an arrest record, etc.) and talked about the minimal amount of alcohol needed to be considered legally drunk under the age of 21.
Vernon Youth Services Bureau Youth Counselor Kim McTighe said the week-long Alcohol and Distracted Driving Awareness activities also included many other messages that would hopefully sink in with students.
Peer Advocate and SSNAP members took part in training about drinking and texting while driving.
Student Danielle Skoglund said one bit of data really stuck with her.
“That texting while driving reduces your steering ability by 90 percent,” she said.
The students also posted statistics on lockers, called “locker shock,” which drew attention to other such statistics.
Chalk outlines of students were also drawn in the student parking lot, with accompanying statistics. Stickers for corsage boxes that read, “Live long enough to smell the flowers,” were also distributed, along with other similarly-marked prom favors.
For McTighe, the measure of whether the message gets through to RHS students is simple.
“If everybody gets home, and we get no phone calls and no tragedies after the proms, then, to me, that's a success,” McTighe said. “We're hoping that they take the [mock crash] seriously. The history is that every time we've had it, the kids are still talking about it years later.”
Skoglund echoed that sentiment. “I hope people are safe at the prom and if there are any after-parties, that they get home safely,” Skoglund said.