TAG Takes Over Staples for Annual Grim Reaper Day

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On May 15, 2009 the Teen Awareness Group (TAG) took over Staples High School for its annual Grim Reaper Day.

Grim Reaper Day comes every year before junior prom, senior prom and graduation, and serves to impress upon the students the importance of not drinking and driving, especially during these festive times.

This year, as in past years, TAG coated the walls with frightening statistics about drunk driving, including the statistic that has become the catch phrase of the yearly event:

“Every 30 minutes someone dies in a drunk driving accident”

The TAG group designated drunk driving “victims” and painted their faces a ghostly white.

Each victim was given a true story of someone who died in a drunk driving accident as his own, and was asked not to talk once they had been “killed,” or had his or her face painted white.

“I think the painting [of the faces] is a visual reminder of what the possibilities are [with drinking and driving],” said TAG member Nick Cion ’10. “If students are grim reaper day victims and have no visual representation, then you wouldn’t see them and be reminded of the statistic ‘every 30 minutes’ as you walked around.”

 The assembly that TAG presented had two speakers from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) who told stories of first and second hand experiences with deaths caused by drunk driving.

“This year we chose to have representatives from MADD come because we wanted speakers that were as passionate about our cause as we are. MADD is a fabulous organization that tries to promote the same message we do and we felt as though these speakers were extremely passionate and had great stories to tell,” said TAG member Lucy Colgan ’10.

The first speaker, Lauren Iannucci, told of losing her best friend at the age of 13, and how it felt to go through the rest of her adolescence without her friend. She stressed how events like graduation, where she had nothing but a “seat of roses” to remember her friend by, were especially difficult.  

The second speaker, Robin Cullen, shared a first hand experience in which she had flipped her car after drinking and consequently killed her friend. She described the disillusioned feeling she had after the accident, and how she didn’t realize the gravity of her error until she returned to her car several days after the accident and actually  “pulled [pieces of her] friend’s hair” from the broken windshield where she had hit her head.

“I though that Robin was different than anyone we’ve ever had and it was good for kids to hear about how people who drive drunk have to live with the consequences every day,” said TAG member Jackie Dimitrief ’10.

These two women’s stories were followed by a brief speech from a senior from Notre Dame High School who had attended the MADD “Power Camp” last summer at Southern Connecticut State University.

The student, Chris, urged Staples students to see beyond what they thought was “cool” and take advantage of this experience which he said gave him the opportunity to meet other students who wanted to make a difference.

“I think it was interesting how the speakers brought not only the problem [to talk about], but also brought a solution,” said TAG member Harry Rappaport ’10. “They brought Chris to talk about changing normal kids from followers to leaders in order to fight underage drinking and potential drunk driving.”

The program Chirs spoke of is a three-day youth leadership camp run by the MADD organization.

Following the speeches was a film prepared by the TAG organization with the help of student Stephen Deluca ’10.

Most years the film is filled with speeches made by people affected by drunk driving, but this year TAG’s video consisted of a series of statistics that they compiled using surveys of Staples students they conducted all years about drinking and driving.

“The statistics were shocking. I never realized how many students at Staples drank on a regular basis. It was also freaky to see how many students had been in a car with someone who had drank,” said Morgan Goldberg ’11.

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