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School display sends powerful message

A rollover unit, broken car parts and dented license plates are being displayed at the high school as a constant reminder of the consequences of drinking and driving.

Debbie Littfin, science teacher at New Richmond High School, created the window display; Arrive Alive is sponsoring the AAA rollover unit.

"It sends a powerful message," said Littfin, who is involved with the local Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization. "And with prom and graduations I thought this was an appropriate time of year to bring it up."

In 2007, the average age of first alcohol use was 16.8 years, according to statistics from MADD; in 2006, the average was 16.6 years.

The window display at the high school includes a shattered mirror and dashboard, donated parts from New Richmond Auto Salvage, along with corsage and boutonniere from Wildflower. Messages of "We would miss you" and "Don't drink and drive" are also included in the display.

Littfin and Tricia Pearou, coordinator for Arrive Alive, got involved with the drunken driving movement for similar, but different reasons.

Littfin's brother-in-law was killed by a drunken driver two years ago.

"This is something very personal to me," she said.

Pearou decided to get involved with Arrive Alive this year.

"The mission of the club really appealed to my beliefs," she said.

Arrive Alive is a club that anyone is grade 9-12 can join, she said. The mission of the club is to promote positive choices, and alternatives to drinking and driving. The members of Arrive Alive focus on living a life that is free of drinking and free of drugs. Students who are interested in Arrive Alive just need to sign up. There is no interview, and no past experience needed, you just need to have a desire to be a positive role model to peers.

During the week leading up to prom, Arrive Alive members handed out lifesavers, dressed as the grim reaper and will host the AAA rollover unit Thursday and Friday as a way to remind peers to make positive choices.

A few years ago the high school hosted a mock accident, Littfin said. Students were able to witness the consequences of an actual drunken driving situation.

Mock accidents involve several agencies including local police and fire departments, ambulances and sometimes helicopters.

"It's a lot of work to organize," Littfin said. "I looked into it, but it involves so many people, it was just too much work."

In an effort to further discourage drunken driving, the school's athletic department is implementing more severe consequences for underage drinking.

"The school district is committed to helping our young adults learn responsibility and health habits that are important for the rest of their (lives)," said Casey Eckardt in an e-mail.

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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