A senior’s prom night is a night that they’ll always remember. It’s a time of celebration and happiness. It’s hard to imagine tragedy or fatalities occurring on such a wonderful occasion. In gearing up for this year’s prom night, May 3, the Interact Club at Milton-Union High School wanted to ensure the safety of all prom participants by hosting a dramatic ghost-out, mock crash and funeral on April 29 and April 30 to bring awareness to the dangers of texting and drinking while driving on not just prom night, but every day.
“We hope to convey to students that texting and driving is very dangerous,” Milton-Union High School student counselor, Taiya Woodall said. “Consequences of these seemingly harmless actions are very real and potentially life-threatening.”
The school kicked off the pre-prom events on April 29 with a “Ghost Out.” The Ghost Out program is designed to educate students on the dangers of drugs and alcohol to help eliminate the number one killer of teenagers – car accidents.
“Statistics say that every 15 minutes someone dies as a result of distracted driving,” Woodall said. “So, for “Ghost Out” students were chosen ahead of time to participate as a ghost.”
Every 15 minutes, during the school day, the Grim Reaper appeared in classrooms to take the life away from one student. The students who participated in the “Ghost Out” painted their faces white and were unable to communicate with anyone for the remainder of the day- because of course – they were “dead.” The participants also made their own paper tombstone that included their final words and they were posted throughout the walls of the school. The demonstration created a sense of loss and sadness, as students imagine how it would really be to lose that person to texting/drug and alcohol related incidents – “for real.”
On April 30, the school hosted a mock crash and funeral. The focus of the crash this year was the dangers of texting and driving. Nine students were involved in the mock crash and played pivotal parts in the somber day.
“The student body took this very seriously, with a respectful and somber attitude. The crash brought forth many mixed feelings and emotions for both the students and staff,” Woodall continued.
In the “white” van, student Jack Blevins was the texting driver and was driving with his friends, Kenton Dickison and Sam Morgan. Their car collided with the “orange” van. The orange van included innocent motorists and friends Christy Always, Sarah Black and Keagan Crosby.
At the crash scene, students Kaylee Swartztrauber, Jesica Ferguson and the parents Dana and Terry Dickison and Walter and Laura Always rushed to the scene to help with the injured during this incredibly real scenario. They assisted until the medics arrived and took the proper measures.
Dickison “died” on the scene while Alway was pronounced “dead” at the hospital. Morgan was seriously injured and Black and Crosby were treated with minor injuries.
Students were amazed at the realization of the demonstration and the consequences of something that only takes a second to do. The participants of the “Ghost Out” were also present during the mock crash and funeral. During the crash, they held a “stay alive, don’t text and drive” banner, making their presence known.
“The crash made you think twice about not picking up your phone while you’re driving,” senior, Jessica Shields said.
“The crash seemed real, even though we knew it was fake,” senior, Courtney Wion added.
Following the crash and the “deaths” of two students, the school held a funeral for Dickison and Alway. The deceased were displayed in coffins, surrounded by family and friends. The funeral was conducted by Pastor Justin Williams of Hoffman United Methodist Church. During the ceremony, slide show photos were displayed and an audio recording of Dickison’s and Alway’s final words were played. Friends and family gave heart wrenching eulogies to add to the validity of the demonstration.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Fatality, 11 teens die each day from car accidents as a result of texting while driving. The possibility of crashes multiply six folds when drinking is involved. Statistics show that 53% of prom students indulge in four or more alcohol drinks on prom night. With alcohol involved, a student is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash while texting, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. With statistics like this, Milton-Union wanted to demonstrate to the prom students the severity of the risks they were assuming by texting while driving on this special day.
“We feel it went really well and hope that it made an impact on the student body,” student counselor, Mrs. Shaw said. “We are proud of all the hard work the Interact Club students did to make the crash happen and thankful for the help and support of the facility in making it all possible.”
The Interact Club and advisor Paula Shaw organized the crash and funeral with much help from the West Milton Fire Department, West Milton Police Department and Union Township Life Squad. Captain Ben Herron played an important role in the planning and execution of the mock crash. Hale-Saver Funeral Home and Saunders towing donated the needed materials for the crash and funeral.
“We have had many mock crashes in the past and are hopeful to continue in the future,” Woodall said.
For more information on the statistics of texting and drinking while driving, visit http://statisticbrain.com/prom-night-statistics/ or http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com/texting-and-driving-stats/. For information regarding the school event, contact the Interact Club at Milton-Union High School.