-

GCHS Assistant Principal Jody Kane, left, appears nervous as student Isaiah Seaborn struggles to operate a golf cart Wednesday while wearing fatal vision goggles, a drunk driving simulator, Wednesday morning in the high school parking lot.

GCHS is gearing up and preparing for the end of the year Senior and Junior Prom. This is a special time for not just the students but parents as well. And all too often what was an exciting night is now overshadowed by a tragic event.

On Wednesday GCHS was the site of a driving safety awareness event before prom night. Officer Valerie Rodriquez, of the Emporia Police Department, was the driving force behind this event. The goal is to keep the students safe and to help them make good choices. Rodriquez along with Captain Dave Shidell and Lieutenant Glenn Barnes worked together in an effort to bring awareness to the GCHS students.

Both seniors and juniors gathered in the gym for a presentation by Shidell. No matter how confident one may be there are temptations on prom night.

“Guys and girls at this age seem to think they are invincible,” Shidell said. “They have the it won’t happen to me attitude. And if you don’t think it happens right here. Talk to your older friends. It does. It happens right here I have seen it way too many times. I don’t want to see that happening to any of you.”

Shidell spoke with the students about how the law measures alcohol in a person’s system. Some students were surprised to hear that .02 percent of alcohol in your system is concerned to be illegally intoxicated when driving a car. Driving drunk or under the influence is a criminal offense in all states. Alcohol reduces the ability of the brain. It impairs thinking, muscle coordination and reasoning.

All of these functions are vital when operating a vehicle. About twenty five percent of car accidents with teenagers involve an underage drinking driver.

After the presentation the juniors resumed back to their normal schedule and the seniors made their way outside to the football field. On the field students had an opportunity to participate in a drunk driving simulator. Driving a golf cart and wearing fatal vision goggles.

The goggles are designed to mimic visual impairment from various stages of blood level alcohol. The students needed to get through the obstacle course without swerving, crashing, or knocking over any of the cones. Participants were ready to show off their skills. Assistant Principal Jody Kane sat in the passengers seat as student Isaiah Seaborn was the first to try out the obstacle course. Helping out on the field was also Andre Ellis with support from other administrative staff.

“I am here to support the students in anyway I can. And want to encourage them not to drink and drive,” said Ellis.

Student Isaiah Seaborn admitted he had a difficult time driving.

“It was hard to drive with those goggles on,” he said. “It certainly gave me a different perspective. I even found myself worried about my passenger.

Participant Desmond Lewis fared no better.

“I can’t drive like that,” Lewis said. “Driving intoxicated isn’t easy and it messed with my equilibrium.”

The event was a reminder that Prom is a time for teens to have fun and celebrate, but also to encourage them to have a safe and sober Prom night while making positive and healthy choices.