Prom season begins tonight

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By Jesef Williams

The itinerary is set. The dresses and tuxedos are picked out and ready to go.

But before Lancaster High School juniors and seniors head to their prom Saturday, officials wanted to remind them about the dangers of drinking and driving.

On Thursday afternoon, those two classes gathered in the school's auditorium to hear a presentation about drunk driving and then sign a prom promise to not consume alcohol on Saturday.

Lance Cpl. Bryan McDougald of the S.C. Highway Patrol showed the students a video that showed graphic clips from fatal highway wrecks in South Carolina.

"Ewww"s and other grunts resonated from the auditorium as the students grimaced at the images, some of which showed large amounts of blood loss and distorted body parts – all a result of alcohol-related wrecks.

"Tragically, many of the crashes I go to involve teenagers," the trooper said. "Our teenagers die on our (South Carolina's) highways more than any other (state) in the nation."

McDougald said half of the fatal crashes involve alcohol. Three-fourths of the time, the driver wasn't wearing a seat belt, and speed was a factor in 70 percent of the wrecks, he said.

Deborah Boulware, who helped organize this year's prom promise, said that the presentation wasn't meant to scare the students, but simply remind them of how easily wrecks can occur.

"We're here because we want you to have a safe prom and live to remember it," Boulware said.

Students' thoughts

Lancaster High juniors Braeden Evans and Albrey Pittman are going to the prom together on Saturday. The couple, who will be wearing turquoise as their main color, said they want this special night to be fun and safe.

Pittman hopes her peers will honor the pledge. Alcohol use is a problem among students at Lancaster High, she said.

"It hasn't gotten to the point where it's out of control, but it's getting there," Pittman said.

Senior Lashae Barber plans to eat at the Olive Garden before heading to the prom with her friend, Chris Jones. After that, she will probably go home.

Barber said Thursday's video presentation reinforced her vow to remain sober.

"It shows people what drinking can do," Barber said. "It makes me think twice about speeding and things like that."

Lancaster High will hold its prom at the Baxter Hood Center at York Technical College in Rock Hill.

Indian Land High School also took its prom promise Thursday. Its prom is today at the Palmetto Room in Rock Hill.

Andrew Jackson High School will hold its prom May 10 and Buford High School will hold its prom May 17. Both will be at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or (803) 283-1152