Sirens shouted in the Performing Arts Center at North Royalton High School. Students looked like they were in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. They weren’t auditioning for a TV show but took the stage during a mock car crash dramatization.
On Thursday, April 28, approximately 400 twelfth-grade students gathered to experienced first-hand the aftermath of an alcohol-related automobile accident. Buzzed driving and distracted driving can also result in the same fate.
“This scenario revolves around an alcohol impaired driver,” said School Resource Officer and organizer of the mock crash, Jon Karl. “The results are the same when the drivers are impaired with illegal or abused and misused prescription drugs. Marijuana is included with those groups of drugs and is becoming increasingly present in impaired driver cases.”
A group of students arrived early to school, dressed in prom attire and applied makeup to create wounds that resembled real accident victims. The visual impact of the victims and hand-cuffed driver, along with first responders from the North Royalton Police and Fire Forces, accompanied by a tragic script of the lives affected by the event, added to the realism.
“The event is designed to raise awareness of what could happen, if poor decisions are made,” added Karl. “It’s a reminder to have a drug-free prom and graduation.”
Parents can continue the conversation at home by talking with their child about substance use, including illegal and prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco and their consequences. They can prepare their teens for peer pressure by suggesting ideas on how to handle a difficult situation and ways to say “no.”
Students who participated in this reenactment want other kids to learn from this experience. Not only are they putting themselves at risk, but others as well. They hope the reenactment will get rid of the notion that they are invincible.
Students in STAND (Students Together Against Negative Decisions) had a role in putting this event together. STAND is a school organization designed to promote positive choices for students in all areas of life in regards to drugs, alcohol, school performance, and driving for example.
“STAND encourages students to think about the consequences of their actions and choose wisely,” said Rachel Hoag, high school counselor and STAND advisor. “Throughout the year, we encourage positive behaviors by participating in events like Red Ribbon Week, National Unity Day and Drug-Fact Week.”
On the same day, other students in STAND joined with local youth and participated in the third annual We are Majority rally. This was in conjunction with Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network’s rally in Columbus. Students gathered in downtown Cleveland, at the Global Center for Health Innovation, participated in team-building activities and marched to City Hall demonstrating that most youth make good choices and encouraging other youth to do the same.
With prom and graduation approaching, the end of the school year is an exciting time for students and families. However, much too often attached to these milestones are stories of teen tragedies. This time of the year presents critical situations where decisions can turn into life-changing events.
To help prevent teen tragedy, The Partnership for a Healthy North Royalton (PHNR) is implementing Drug Free Action Alliance’s Parents Who Host, Lose The Most campaign to encourage parents to make good choices when it comes to underage drinking. Parents who allow underage consumption could find themselves facing serious legal consequences based on Ohio’s Social Host Laws.