Driving Home a Sober Message
Beatty, Allison E., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Allison E. Beatty Daily Herald Staff Writer
Dressed in black with ghostly white paint covering her face, a high school senior walks through school handing out the bad news.
Other students become the "drunk driving victims" as part of a dramatic attempt to show students the impact of drinking and driving.
As prom season arrives, school officials are hoping visits from the Grim Reaper and supervised after-prom parties will keep students from drinking and driving.
Parents also are playing a big part in trying to organize parties that run until the early hours of the morning, but without alcohol.
The event is a way to "show them that you can have a good time without drugs and alcohol," said Lori Reiss, a parent with a student at Glenbard West.
The after-hours parties are designed to show teens there are alternatives to driving into Chicago after the dance and roaming the streets unsupervised.
"Prom is over at 11 and they head into the city and they're heading out at 3 or 4 in the morning," Reiss said.
She hopes the post-prom party for Glenbard West students will keep teens away from alcohol and off of the roads, where other people might be driving drunk.
The party also is a way to involve students who do not attend prom, she said.
The Glenbard West event is similar to those offered by other schools. It includes food, soda, games and dancing for a $10 entrance fee and is held near the students' homes.
Another post-prom event lures students to Chicago, but with a supervised group that sails aboard a boat on Lake Michigan. Fees for a party like that are close to $100.
Some efforts in the classroom, such as talks by DuPage County Coroner Richard Ballinger and other medical professionals are designed to add a dose of reality to the prom season.
"The crux of all of them is to reinforce that they shouldn't be drinking. But if they do they definitely shouldn't be driving," Ballinger said.
"It's difficult to get through to kids because they do have a feeling that they are immortal," said Dr. Donald Steiner, medical director of emergency at Good Samaritan Hospital.
"We still see kids drinking and driving after prom and we still see bad accidents," Steiner said.
"Some of this has to do with the examples parents set for kids. If kids see their parents drinking and driving, that is a huge issue. …