A sobering approach with teens

October 18, 2001|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

The juniors and seniors at Glen Burnie's North County High School streamed into the auditorium yesterday to find an open casket at the foot of the stage, filled with old yearbooks containing their names - all of them, arranged alphabetically.

In the darkened room, the lone silver coffin was creepy and unnerving. Students gasped. A few giggled. But, this being an alcohol awareness assembly, the message was clear: If you drink and drive, that coffin could hold more than just your name.

This graphic way of scaring students sober took an even more gruesome turn after the assembly, when the 900 students gathered on a football field to find four classmates trapped in two cars.

The simulated collision - in which a red Chevy pickup broadsided a gray Eagle sedan - had appeared to have thrown two other students clear of the vehicles.

Standing on a hillside, the assembled students watched a simulated rescue operation, with fire engines, the Jaws of Life, body bags, hearses and a grieving parent identifying a victim.

"We have a lot of high-risk kids here, and we need to hammer them with the reality that they're not 10-feet tall and bulletproof," said Robert J. Schappert, chief of Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company, who developed this alcohol awareness program.

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