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School officials warn students of drinking, driving dangers

POSTED: April 29, 2009 11:22 p.m.

Like Russian roulette, drinking and driving is a risky game of chance that students just shouldn’t play.

During Wednesday’s Prom Promise Assembly at Jefferson High School, Jefferson officials warned students against the ills of drinking and driving.

"There are two nights on a high school calendar where we know alcohol may enter in the equation: prom and graduation," said Kevin Smith, Jefferson High principal.

"Whenever there is an accident on the news, the first thing people say is ‘I didn’t think it could happen here.’ But as we all know, anything is possible when humans are involved. Prom is this Saturday night and we want you to have fun, but we also want you to be safe."

Jefferson police Sgt. James McNatt spoke to students about the legal ramifications of drinking and driving.

"At the age of 17, you are considered an adult in the state of Georgia. If you are in a drinking and driving accident and kill someone, you can be tried as an adult and serve time as an adult," McNatt said.

"Even if you don’t get in an accident, but just get caught drinking and driving, you could lose your license until you are 21. Having a DUI on your record can haunt you for the rest of your life. Be responsible; don’t drink and drive."

According to McNatt, "alcohol kills more people per year than any other drug."

Jefferson High isn’t the only local school holding events to encourage students to not drink and drive.

"We had a former Johnson High School student, Clint Fair, come speak to our students about the dangers of drinking and driving," said Damon Gibbs, Johnson High principal.

"Clint spent several years in prison after killing another driver while he was drinking and driving."

At West Hall High School, the school’s Students Against Drunk Driving organization planned a "ghost out" day.

"Several students dressed in black and carried signs with the names of people who have died in drunk-driving accidents," said Jackie Adams, West Hall principal.

Gainesville High School brought in a motivational speaker to speak to students prior to their prom last Saturday.

"We focused on the idea that every person has worth," said Chris Mance, Gainesville High principal.

"We also focused on the idea that (the students) need to make good decisions and understand that the decisions they make can sometimes be life altering."

While students in Jefferson got an earful from local law enforcement officials, they also received a few words of wisdom from instructor Mike Paul.

"We’re not naive; we know you all are going to party. All we’re asking is that you don’t play Russian roulette," Paul said.

"Prom will be a night you will remember for the rest of your life. It will be a night filled with memories of a lifetime. The type of memories you have from that night are up to you."



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