Sometimes a student makes nearly all of the right moves throughout his or her high school career. Tests are thoroughly prepared for, homework is always finished and there’s a nearly perfect balance between school and social life.
However, one destructive decision, such as getting behind the wheel after drinking and driving, can change the course of that student’s once-promising life forever.
At Rush City High School, a group of students is working to ensure their peers don’t make decisions that could have lifelong, damaging impacts on themselves and others.
That group is the school’s first ever Students Against Destructive Decisions organization.
SADD, active at numerous high schools across the nation, was formerly known as Students Against Drunk Driving, but the name was changed a few years ago in order to include destructive decisions other than intoxicated driving.
Senior Marissa Belau, junior Adam Engel and freshman Shayla McKinney-Buck took some time out of their busy schedules last week to talk about why they got involved with the group.
Belau said Community Partnership with Youth and Families, a non-profit organization that works to promote healthy lifestyles for young people, partnered with the school to find out if there was any interest in getting SADD up-and-running in Rush City.
It turns out there was quite a bit of interest.
“We have 35 signed members, and between 12 and 15 of those members come to meetings,” Belau said.
The group is far more than just meetings.
Since it was officially chartered in October, Rush City High School SADD organized a red-and-white dress-up day for Jack Jablonski and Jenna Privette – two student athletes who were severely injured playing hockey – in order to draw attention to the dangers students face when they step out on their respective sports fields and courts.
SADD also paired with Community Partnership to host a town hall meeting on the after-effects of receiving an underage drinking ticket, the group organized a bake sale to benefit the school’s band and choir, and SADD has worked with Community Partnership in other capacities to help raise awareness of the difficult decisions facing today’s teens.
SADD has another big event coming up before the end of the school year: its after-prom party May 6.
The party will be held at Chucker’s Bowl & Lounge in Rush City, starting at midnight.
“Really it’s just designed to keep the kids safe after prom,” Belau said. “That’s one big night every school year where kids go out partying, and they drink and they try to drive home. We just want to give them another option that’s substance free so they can still hang out after prom, still stay up till 4 a.m. and get some cool stuff out of it.”
Engel said SADD partnered with an array of local businesses to procure prizes students could win.
The high school also kicked in $500 for the event.
“We’re giving away a TV, a camera and Wild tickets as well,” Engel said.
He explained the party will be Olympics-themed, with students competing in a variety of games.
At the end of the night, the top competitors will receive medals.
He added students who show up will receive a “goodie bag” just for attending.
So far, more than 60 students have signed forms to come to the celebration.
This week, SADD also organized an “Awareness Week” to highlight the dangers of distracted driving, tobacco use, alcohol abuse and risky relationships.
Being a junior, Engel said he plans to stay involved with SADD during his senior year and he hopes more students sign up for the group.
“We’ve got a whole bunch of ideas already ready (for next year), he said. “Everybody is excited about the new possibilities.”