MEXICO – Celebration season is in full swing at Mexico High School and with that has come stern warnings of the danger that may follow poor choices.
Just ahead of the school’s recent prom, Principal Ryan Lanigan’s message of safely having fun resonated with juniors and seniors who attended an assembly following Grim Reaper Day.
Two of his friends were involved in separate drunken driving crashes; one died and the other suffered major surgeries.
“Please be smart,” he said.
He overlooked the auditorium where students packed the seats, with the exception of 13 covered in white cloth.
The ghostly spaces represented the 13 students who, throughout the entire school day, were pulled out of their classrooms by grim reapers, played by students Josh Washer and Connor McDermott.
Those students were taken to a room at the high school, had their faces painted white and were directed to return to class and not speak the rest of the day.
Each of the 13 students represented being a part of the statistic of those killed by drunken drivers.
Grim Reaper Day was coordinated by Oswego County Stop-DWI Program Coordinator Robert Lighthall and Allison LaVerne, Mexico English teacher and advisor to the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions Club.
Lighthall said the goal is to educate students about the consequences which will come after unnecessary mistakes.
The mission, he said, is to ensure every student attends their Mexico Academy & Central School District celebratory events and graduation with no empty chair or memorials.
Guest speakers Wendy Peters and Tracy Woodmancy provided their accounts of how driving while intoxicated crashes have forever impacted their lives.
Woodmancy’s 14-year-old daughter was killed in 2008 by a drunk driver while on her first car ride to Florida. Peters’ friend, who made the unfortunate choice in 1997 to drive after drinking, crashed his vehicle with Peters and other friends as passengers. He died and she was severely injured.
“One choice, one moment affects a whole community,” Lighthall said, as several students wiped away tears.
Mexico SADD Club members have remained committed to educating their peers on the dangers of both drunken and distracted driving.