Brutal lessons: JCHS students reminded of dangers just before prom

JCHS students were shown in vivid detail what can result from a poor decision. 
They had to watch as classmates were cut from a wrecked car. One was placed under arrest and the county coroner’s office loaded another into a hearse. Then, in the school gym, minutes later, a full funeral was held.
It was all a part of Gold Cross EMS Ghost Out program designed to save lives by teaching responsibility leading up to prom night. 
Throughout the day leading up to the mock accident, students took part in impaired driving simulators, an accident impact simulator that shows the importance of seatbelt use, a drug education program and other modules.
“What we try to do with this program is to educate the kids to keep them from making destructive decisions,” said  Maj. Jamey Crosby Director of Training for Gold Cross. “What I mean by that is don’t drink and drive, don’t text and drive, no distracted driving; and we also teach abstinence. We feel that if we save one child’s life, the program was all worth it.”
This will be the sixth year Gold Cross has been running the program, but the first time they have brought it to Jefferson County schools. 
Crosby said they were invited by the county coroner’s office, but that a host of agencies, including local firefighters and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, work together to present the programs.
JCHS teacher and 2017 prom coordinator Kanesha Roberts said that she saw the impact it had on the students.
“From last year’s prom to this year’s prom we’ve had 15 fatalities involving young people in the CSRA,” Roberts said. “They had a grim reaper who walked around and tapped 15 kids. They were pulled out and their faces were painted white like they were ghosts and they couldn’t speak for the rest of the day. They represented those 15 kids killed in the last year.”
She said that the students were very engaged with the program presented by Drug and Alcohol Testing of Georgia.
“They had over 300 different drugs including crack cocaine, meth, pills, and helped the students understand what kind of influence they can have over you,” Roberts said. “Not just how they impair your judgment, but the health effects.”
The biggest impact, though, was made by the mock accident and funeral, she said.
“It showed that a lot of the time, when someone is drinking and driving, it’s not you that gets killed. It can be your buddies or your family members, or whoever is in the car with you,” Roberts said. “And it showed them how popular kids who you know are going somewhere after graduation, how quickly it can all be over. And then the driver is left knowing for the rest of his life that he killed his best friend. It made a powerful impact. Sitting with the kids you could see it. Some of them cried. It was powerful.
“When they saw them cover him with a sheet and then put him in that body bag, that’s when I really saw the tears. And it was the teachers too. Some of them had to walk away. Some of the kids said, ‘No, this is traumatizing. Why do ya’ll have to show us this.’ I told them that when they go to prom we want to make sure they come back to school on Monday. I really think they saw the message behind the makeup.”