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Prom Week offers stark reminder to drive safely

South Boston News
Above, members of the Chase City Fire Department and Rescue Squad respond at Bluestone High School to a mock fatality — involving a student who was distracted either by texting or using a cell phone while driving. / April 17, 2013
Bluestone High School was the staging ground Monday for a make-believe horror — a fatal car crash, involving an imaginary 17-year-old, his 10-year-brother and an infant, the latter two ejected from the vehicle.

Bluestone students watched as friends and classmates reenacted the fatal car crash: trapped in the wreckage was the student driver, Donovan Mosley, while his younger brother, DayVon, lay on the ground near the lifeless infant.

Members of the Chase City Fire Department and Rescue Squad used the Jaws of Life to extract Donovan from the car, while the paramedics tended to the injured DayVon and the baby (portrayed by a doll). The final scene was a mock funeral during which Bluestone senior Taylor Tharpe asked her fellow classmates, “How do you want to remember your prom?”

This annual reenactment, known as Prom Promise, is meant to “open our eyes to what might happen if we drink or text and drive,” said Bluestone junior Davon Moody. Moody is a member of the school organization, YoVASO (Youth of Virginia Speak Out).

The group is responsible for staging the Prom Promise each year the week before the school’s actual prom, slated this Saturday.

When the program began nearly a decade ago, students with Bluestone High School’s YoVASO and SODA (Students Opposed to Drugs and Alcohol) were intent on saving lives by warning classmates about the risks of drinking and driving. Today, Prom Promise includes an admonition against texting and driving. After all, according to Tharpe, “nearly 23 percent of all accidents involved drivers who were texting or using cell phones while driving — that’s 1.3 million crashes.”

Chase City Police Chief J.A. Jordan has been involved with the program since its inception. He praised it for its effectiveness: “I’m out there every year until midnight or beyond, and each year I hold my breath until the morning after the prom. Thank God, we have had no accidents” since Prom Promise began.

Students responded with a loud “amen” as substitute teacher and minister Charles Allen — he officiated at the mock funeral — reminded students, “It makes no difference how many screwdrivers you can put down, or how fast you can drive or how many curves you can take. You need to keep your mind on what you’re doing and don’t be distracted. Remember, the prom is about having fun.”

YOVASO is a statewide youth leadership program dedicated to saving the lives of teenage drivers. The primary goal of SODA is to teach students about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

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