Liberty High wins Prom Promise contest for 3rd year

June 15, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Liberty High School did not rest on its laurels when the Prom Promise campaign opened this year. The two-time champion worked hard to make it three in a row.

At a school assembly yesterday Nationwide Insurance, sponsor of the inter-school contest to help combat drunken driving, announced that Liberty was Grand Champion for Maryland -- again.

The Eldersburg school led 187 others in the state competition. More than 95 percent of its 1,065 students had signed the pledge and promised they would not drink on prom night.

"We have to trust and hope the signing means something to everyone," said Bethany Zoller, 18, one of 35 students who formed the signing committee.

Also a winner in the county was North Carroll High School, which was awarded $125. A total of 40 Maryland schools captured monetary awards.

Sam Bradshaw, regional Prom Promise coordinator for Nationwide, said Liberty may be the only three-time winner in the country. Nearly 3,000 schools from 22 states and Washington participated this year.

"It is amazing that one school can do this three years in a row," said Mr. Bradshaw. "That Liberty continues this level of excellence is a great tribute to the community, the faculty and the students themselves."

Senior Brian Tone said students "have come to expect" a high level of participation in the annual contest.

The effort earned a $2,375 prize for the school and "Grand Slam" T-shirts for all the signers. Principal Robert Bastress wore his T-shirt as he addressed the students yesterday.

"It is great to receive money as a grand champion," said Mr. Bastress. "It is also important for your personal integrity that you followed through on your promise. You learned you can have fun in life without alcohol."

The prize money will buy ceiling fans for windowless classrooms, said Helen Derwin, faculty coordinator of the campaign.

"We want the prize to benefit everyone in the school," she said.

Gerry Eckenrode, insurance agent and a former LHS teacher who assisted with the campaign, said positive peer pressure drives the program.

"It makes kids aware that by not drinking and driving they save lives," said Mr. Eckenrode. "The students took an active, serious part and Ms. Derwin pushed hard."

The committee asked everyone -- whether or not they were attending the prom -- to sign the pledge.

"A lot of us went to the prom in limousines, but we didn't want to worry about anyone else drinking and driving on prom night," said senior Mike Towers.

The school earned an additional $500 from local Chevrolet/Geo dealers for the students' scrapbook, a collection of photos and cartoons detailing the signature campaign.

"Everybody got behind us," said Mike Puskar, 16, author of the scrapbook. "Liberty means freedom, and here it also means freedom from drugs and alcohol."

Ms. Derwin asked the students to extend the promise to the summer vacation. "Set an example," she said. "Draw a line in the sand and stay on the right side of it."

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