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North Hagerstown student designs SADD billboard

April 24, 1998

In 1982, the year SADD went national, 5,380 young people ages 12 to 20 died in alcohol-related traffic crashes.

By 1995, that number was reduced to 2,206. The toll rose to 2,315 in 1996, only the second time in 10 years the number of youths dying in alcohol-related motor vehicle incidents has risen.

SADD has a new goal: to reduce the number of deaths by 14 percent to 2,000 in the year 2000.

There still is work to be done.

- Source: Students Against Destructive Decisions

By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer

It's almost prom time - time to think about choosing a dress or tuxedo, a corsage or boutonniere.

It's also time to think about being safe.

Local high school students are doing that, and sharing their message with others.

Amanda Cunningham, a 17-year-old North Hagerstown High School senior, is treasurer of the school's chapter of SADD - Students Against Destructive Decisions. The organization, originally called Students Against Drunk Driving, was formed in1981 when two students from a Massachusetts high school died within a week of each other in alcohol-related car crashes. A year later, a national effort was launched, and the organization since has spread to all 50 states, Canada and beyond.

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Another national program with local visibility is Nationwide Insurance's Prom Promise - in which students sign a pledge to not use alcohol or other drugs. The North High SADD group was trying to find a way to promote Prom Promise, said Amanda, who plans to study computer graphic arts in college. She put some ideas on paper.

Amanda's sketch will become a billboard on Pennsylvania Avenue across from North High. It encourages students to be responsible by making the right decisions.

Last year, when enough students signed the Prom Promise pledge, Williamsport High school teachers became a "human sundae" topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. North High Principal David Reeder spent a day on the day on the roof, and this year, he'll spend a night in jail at Washington County Detention Center if 60 percent of his students sign the Prom Promise pledge.

On Tuesday, May 5, Bobby Petrocelli, a teacher and football coach from Texas, will speak to North High students. Petrocelli and his wife were sleeping when a man, under the influence of alcohol, drove his truck into their home, and Petrocelli's wife was killed. The program will be videotaped and made available to area high schools.

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