Belen students sign pledge not to drink and drive

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They carried a red rose attached to a ribbon during Belen High School’s prom on Saturday, signifying their commitment to be safe.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: Belen High School freshmen Sarah Clark signs her name into a certificate pledging to stay alcohol and drug free for prom. More than 200 students made the same pledge as part of the ‘Safe Sober Prom’ campaign.

More than 200 prom attendees, and some that didn’t even go, pledged to stay alcohol and drug free during prom and to encourage their friends to follow suit, said Therese Schafer, BHS’ health assistant.

“All we want is to have a safe prom,” Schafer said.

Senior Erica Sluder signed the pledge because she believes underage drinking and driving is the “absolute worst thing you can do.”

“I lose all respect for people who do that,” Sluder said. “You put so many people in danger and yourself. It’s not OK.”

The rose and pledge were part of the campaign “Safe Sober Prom,” which also aligns with Alcohol Awareness Month in April.

For signing the pledge, students were entered into a raffle to win gift cards ranging from $15 to $50 to more than a dozen local restaurants.

Students received free limo rides, movie tickets with a free popcorn and drink, couple’s dinners and meals from businesses, such as Valencia County Sheriff’s Posse, Storyteller Starlight Cinema, Goldie’s Diner, Irene’s Restaurant, Rutilio’s New Mexican Foods, Rita’s New Mexican Restaurant, Pete’s Cafe, Fat Sats Bar & Grill and Harla Mays Fat Boy Grill.

An assembly Thursday reminded students of drunk driving accidents that took the lives of four Belen students several years ago, Schafer said.

“We don’t want anyone dying, anyone crashing or getting hurt on such a beautiful night that’s going to be full of memories. We don’t want those kinds of memories,” said BHS nurse Margaret Ortiz.

Ortiz’s office, conducting the pledge, wanted to push students to be curious about something positive and send a message to their friends instead of explaining teenage drinking and driving as something done because of curiosity, she said.

A school-wide announcement also asked students to avoid being another statistic days before prom. Statistics have shown that one teen dies in a drunk driving accident every 53 minutes and teenagers that drink alcohol have a higher rate of dying than with any other illegal drugs, Schafer said.

Senior Mary Porcher has seen what alcohol can do to individuals first hand with one of her friends, who is an alcoholic at the age of 19.

“A lot of people drive drunk every year and die, so I figure if I’m already not going to drink and drive and it’s a good cause I figure I might as well sign up,” Porcher said.

Senior Lee Sanchez said drinking and driving has a ripple effect, hurting more people than just those involved in the car accidents.

Drinking while in high school is a waste of time, said senior Elizabeth Martinez.

“It doesn’t make any sense to risk your life over prom,” Martinez said.

The goal of this campaign is total student wellness, to keep them on the right track.

“You don’t have to do that to have a good time,” Ortiz said. “You can be clean and have a good time.”


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.