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2015 submissions from the top ten finalists

Essay Eight

Okay here’s the thing, Sober everyone –even teenagers- know how dangerous it is to drink and drive. We’ve all worn the drunk goggles in 8th grade, gone to the assemblies and felt honesty horrible for the person telling us how alcohol and driving ruined their life and the lives of their friends. We did the D.A.R.E program in elementary school, dressed up for the D.A.R.E dance and happily worn our D.A.R.E t-shirts. We’ve taken health class, read the statistics and seen the amazingly realistic and super horrible fake drunk car accident in the school parking lot. And of course we’ve all had hundreds of discussions with our parents about the risks of drinking and driving. We know it’s dumb, and probably the worst thing you can do, because you not only risk your life you risk innocent people’s lives too.

So what happened to my “fellow classmates “? Real life.

Now obviously they didn’t plan to go out that night, get drunk and go driving. They went out, like most teenagers do, looking for some fun, maybe something new and the chance to get away from school, college applications and all the pressure. Maybe they weren’t even planning on drinking but when they got to the party there it was. Maybe they had tried it before and thought they knew their tolerance levels. Maybe they had never tried it before and it got away from them. Because as, such as no one wants to admit it, in real life teenagers try alcohol. We make poor decisions. We think we’ll just drink a little. We think we’ve learned enough to know when to stop. And even though it’s illegal and even though it shouldn’t be, alcohol can sometimes be easy for teenagers to get. That’s real life too.

But why didn’t anyone at the party stop them? Maybe they didn’t look that drunk. Maybe everyone was a little drunk. Maybe no one wanted to make a scene. Most likely no one wanted to get in trouble and no one wanted to get their friends in trouble. Because in high school, in real life, that’s the worst thing a teen can do.

So how could we have prevented this tragedy? What can we, as a community, do? Deal with real life is it really is?

All of that alcohol education is great , It’s probably enough to keep many teens from doing something stupid and once the rest of us , and our decision-making processes , finally grow up it will come in really handy .

We need to make not drinking, and Not Drinking and the Designated Driver, cool.

At the beginning of the year every teacher should devote an entire class to a discussion – with complete student immunity – on real life teenage drinking, the importance of staying alive and the designated Driver (DD). We should create an app where kids can name their DD from their friend group every time they go out. Everyone has a smartphone and in that first week every one should have to mandatorily download the app and log in. We should create a Club of student DDs for weekends. As one of the requirements for being on a school team or a club all members must volunteer and be trained to act as DDs – picking up any teen who needs it, no questions asked. DDs would work in pairs and earn community service hours. (of course other kids can volunteer if they want to ) the club should have a room at school or maybe a church with TVs, game systems and food –just no alcohol –so even the DDs have fun night . Every Friday all teachers should keep track of Drivers and at the end of the year there bracelets that say DD and give them out on Fridays. the constant discussion and publicity about DDs will let teens at parties feel comfortable both making sure anyone wearing the bracelet isn’t drinking and calling the DD club when they or their drunk friend need a ride . Knowing they won’t get in or cause trouble will make it easier for everyone to do the right thing.

That’s dealing with life as it really is – so more teen’s het to have a real life.

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