The Mountain Times

°F Mon, April 21, 2014

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Prom night: Students help peers stay safe with “tuxedo messages”

Statistics have shown that when teenagers get together in large numbers, like during a prom, underage drinking is a common occurrence. Unfortunately, it seems that every year we hear stories of prom nights ending tragically. The end of the High School and the excitement of new beginnings understandably puts kids in the mood to celebrate, but when destructive decisions are made the night (and sometimes a bright future) can quickly take a turn for the worse.

Underage drinking on prom night has been a problem that communities have been dealing with for decades and a lot of different approaches have been tried to get the message across.

For 15 years, local high schools have teamed up with student organizations like Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) as well as regional authorities and community action groups to provide inserts in the pockets of tuxedos and with flower corsages. These inserts are cards that remind prom-goers of the financial consequences associated with illegal alcohol consumption. The message is based on the popular MasterCard commercials that list the cost of a few items and then call the intangible benefits "priceless."

The cost of going to the prom might be as much as $800 but if a student gets caught with alcohol, especially while driving, the costs quickly spiral out of control. Considering loss of scholarship money, police citations and lawyers' fees, a guilty student might lose $25,000 or more. The reminder ends with "perfect memories of an alcohol-free prom are: Priceless"

John D'Esposito is an advisor for the local SADD chapter and he thinks this is an effective way to get the message out.

"A popular metaphor that I like to think of is having several people all shooting arrows at a target. Some of those arrows may miss, but hopefully many will hit the mark. That's the idea behind getting this important message out there. We want to be consistent. Essentially, if a student rents a tuxedo or buys a corsage anywhere locally, they will get this message," he said.

Cassandra Soudiff, a Rutland student, agrees. She thinks that the message is helpful, saying "Prom is expensive on its own; it really hits you what the financial cost would be if you get in trouble. I think it's great that students can get involved to show that we support a safe prom."

Photo by Nathan Allen