To The Daily Sun,
We are finally coming into spring in the Lakes Region and with this exciting time of year comes those important and fun annual school events, the prom and graduation. Each year we are excited to offer a "chem-free after prom party" for our students at Laconia High School. We are proud of this event and its growth over the years. We are also proud of its purpose: offering students a safe and drug-free environment during what is sadly a very dangerous evening based on statistics from across the nation.
Local, state and national data all offer the same sad truth: Prom night is a dangerous time for our nation's youth. Roughly a third of alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities occur between April and June, which is considered the peak of prom season. A survey conducted by AAA in 2014 with teens aged 16 to 19, found that 41 percent said it was likely that they or their friends would use drugs or alcohol on prom night. That same survey indicated 84 percent of teens said their friends would be more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking than to call home for a ride (if they believed they'd get in trouble for using alcohol.) Another 22 percent said they'd ride in a car with someone who was impaired instead of calling their parents.
Unfortunately, we also know that tolerance of this destructive behavior is not singularly driven by a student's peers, a survey conducted by PEMCO Insurance found that while 51 percent of adults said parents should forbid their child from going to an after-prom party where alcohol would be present, another 20 percent gave it the thumbs-up as long as the event would be chaperoned.
Recently, students from across the state participated in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. We made every effort to transparently present this data to the community through multiple venues. We know our community and its youth are dealing with substance misuse issues and we need to be effective in how we support our youth in making quality decisions about their health. The Chem-Free After Party is without doubt one of those decisions . . . and it's a lot of fun.
Over the last three years, the Chem-Free After Party has provided students with safe transportation, fun activities throughout the overnight hours and lots of incentives and prize give-aways. It is our hope that the community will once again support this event through donations, prizes and chaperones. It is when we come together for the kids that we find them moving in the most positive directions.
As always, thank you Laconia for all you do each year to support this important program for Laconia High School students. It is only because we work together that this opportunity can exist.
Jim McCollum, Principal
Laconia High School