SADD Grim Reaper returns to THS to promote safety during and after prom

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The Grim Reaper, played by Ben Shaw, visited students at THS Friday as part of a campaign to promote safety and discourage drinking and driving during prom season. The THS SADD chapter took part in the Grim Reaper Day held one day before the annual prom. The group pictured above next to a coffin inside the cafetorium (on left, clockwise from the top) were: Morgan Skelton, Karman Wilford, Grace Mills and Anneka Hart. Photo by Jim Lincoln.

After about a two-year hiatus, a SADD chapter is back at Tecumseh High School and is as active as ever combating bad choices by the student body.

Formerly, the public was familiar with the student organization as Students Against Drunk Driving, but the organization has broadened its focus to include a larger spectrum of today’s opportunities for missteps in behavior that plague students and the general population. Now the initials SADD stand for Students Against Destructive Decisions.

“The words that the acronym represents changed for a good reason,” said SADD co-adviser Brandi Boswell, an English teacher at THS. “The change in focus from just drunk driving came about to reflect the widening issues that students are facing to embrace a broader range of destructive behavior.”

The student organization has resurrected a very popular and effective event that was an annual campaign to raise awareness against the dangers of drunk driving in years past. “It’s called Grim Reaper Day, and it is held the day before Prom [Saturday, April 26],” said co-advisor Kristalyn Musselman, THS health and special education teacher. “Every 53 minutes throughout the day, one student will be pulled out of class to represent the statistic that someone dies every 53 minutes as the result of drunk driving.” In all, eight students have been selected as “victims.”

The co-advisors have conferred in advance with teachers and victims to assure that none of the students will be taking an examination when the fateful moment arrives. The victims are summoned by the Grim Reaper, who will be played by SADD member Ben Shaw. Students are escorted by the Reaper to the “make-up room,” where they will be suitably made-up to look like a cadaver. The student will return to his or her normal schedule with a sign around their neck reading: “I am just a memory now. I can no longer speak to you.”

“To add a chilling touch of realism, Handler Funeral Home has generously loaned us a coffin that will be in the cafetorium during student lunches,” said Communities In Schools of the Tecumseh Area (CISTA) site coordinator Diane Savoia. Savoia will also be doing the make-up for the “walking dead.” “CISTA is happy to play a supporting role in the rebirth of SADD,” she said.

CISTA has partnered with SADD as part if its mission to help students in all aspects of their school career. “It’s no longer just about drunk driving,” Savoia said. “Unfortunately, the dangers have also come to include drug use, violence, and suicide, to name a few. All of these things are targets of SADD.”

SADD President Nicole Cote, a junior, said that student participation in the organization has exceeded expectations. “We began organizing in March and we have 27 members,” she said. “Most of them are upperclassmen, but we’re hoping to attract more.” Cote, who is also executive chairperson of the youth advisory council for Tecumseh Coalition for Youth, will retain her presidency of SADD as a senior because the group was re-inaugurated so late in the current school year. Other officers include: Zoe Melnyk, vice president; Nicole Lipnichan, secretary; and Ben Shaw, treasurer.

As part of their effort to reestablish a high profile among student clubs and organizations, the THS SADD chapter and the Tecumseh Coalition for Youth will be sponsoring a photo booth at the After Prom celebration that will be held at THS until 3 a.m. the night of the prom. Couples will able to have their picture taken in observance of one of the themes for the evening: Make memories, not regrets.

The After Prom party offers a variety of activities, snacks, and food as a way to encourage students to pursue safe entertainment when the prom is over and to emphasize the other theme of the evening: Get dressed up, not messed up.




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