Friday, May 21, 2010


It's prom night in Glenview and of course all week the town has been getting ready. My neighbor finished sewing her daughter's dress and brought it over for me to admire. Hair and nail appointments were made. Boutonnieres and corsages ordered. It's a fun and magical time.

The school is gearing up for it too. Yesterday I took Atticus up to school early so he could help with the sound for the bi-annual anti-drunk-driving demonstration the school puts on for its seniors and juniors during prom week. As I dropped him off I grilled him about it but he didn't know much--just that they had some kind of program out at the football field and he'd be working the sound board.

When I picked him up after school he told me all about it so here is what went on at my kids' school yesterday, according to Atticus:

All the juniors and seniors came out to the football field and the principle spoke about the dangers of drunk driving and texting while driving. He spoke eloquently about how this has affected him personally. He told the kids that texting now kills about as many kids as drunk driving. Behind him were two vehicles shrouded in tarps with firemen standing on each side. As he finished his speech two firemen pulled the tarps off dramatically. Jobee, a senior sound guy leaned in and told Atticus to make sure the mikes were up full volume. As the tarps came off there was a bloodcurdling scream from inside one of the cars. Then there was a multitude of crying and screaming from both the cars.

The cars which had been smashed by the firemen to simulate a car accident were full of student actors in prom dresses and tuxes. They had fake blood all over them and volunteer nurses had applied makeup to look like actual wounds. The kids screamed and cried and then the actor playing the drunk kid got out of the car looking bewildered, trying to help his date and the two couples trapped in the other car. Soon a Glenview cop car pulled out from behind the field house, sirens blaring and pulled up to the "accident". He radioed the accident in (he and the radio had mikes on them) saying there were two possible fatalities. The drunk driver grew more distraught and when the ambulance pulled up and the EMTs started working on the victims the police officer administered a field sobriety test to him, which he failed. The EMTs called for back up and a fire truck which had been parked around the school roared on to the field.

They announced they'd need the jaws of life to get the kids out. They pulled out the equipment and ripped the car open like a can opener (Atticus said one of the actors is in his math class and he said THAT was scary, having a giant metal claw a few inches from his head). The police officer cuffed the drunk driver and put him in the squad car and drove away. Just then they could hear a helicopter and soon the med-vac copter dispatched from the hospital next door roared over their heads landing in the middle of the field. The EMTs got out and hustled two of the victims into the helicopter and flew off.

The remaining two kids, a boy and a girl in their bloodied tux and gown lay lifeless on the ground. A hearse, driven by a former Glenview student who now owns a local funeral home pulled up. He and his partner got out and quietly zipped each student into a body bag and loaded them up.

As the hearse drove away, a firefighter who has had to do this in real life got up and spoke to the kids about the horror of it. He wept as he talked.

By now a lot of the kids were crying and when he finished speaking the 1,000 or so kids were silent.

Now, usually I kind of make fun of the over-the-top stuff they do at my kids' school. But in this case I have to say that this is an impressive and admirable use of the dramatic arts. Can you even imagine the adrenaline, heart-pumping scenario of hearing sirens and helicopters and watching them zip your fellow student into a body bag? If just one kid out of that thousand doesn't get behind the wheel of a car drunk for the rest of his or her life because of this re-enactment, lives could be saved. I wish every school in this country had the resources to do this for their students.

When I dropped Atticus off yesterday morning at 6:50 I saw the actors in their tuxes and gowns as they walked out to the football field, the early sun on their backs, and I was puzzled about who it was and why they were there. I don't know why but the hair on my arms stood up because there in the mist, for just a moment, I thought they were the ghosts of prom-night accidents past.

It's prom night in Glenview and around the country. God bless and keep everyone safe.


  1. That's a clever idea, to do it like that, yes. No teenager is going to listen to some preaching teacher or parent, but this should drive the idea home.
    250.000 miles of driving as adelivery driver taught me how easily a lethal accident could happen, and I drove those miles sober.

  2. I wish they had all the kids out there to see it. What an amazing thing to do. Ann C.

  3. As a parent and a volunteer firefighter I too wish every student in the U.S. could see a presentation like the one Atticus' school put on.