CHHS students get ‘grim’ reminders

Published 11:06 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Charles Henderson High School students are looking forward to prom this Saturday and, in an effort to teach students about safety, school principal Kathy Murphy is declaring today “Grim Reaper Day.”

Murphy said students get excited over the “annual rite of passage” that is prom night and, unfortunately, sometimes make poor decisions, such as drinking and driving.

“In our effort to remind our students in a very real and very personal way about the perils of drinking and reckless driving, we have chosen to designate Thursday, as ‘Grim Reaper Day,’” Murphy said. “This is a program that has been used nationally to dramatically impact teenagers regarding the risk of impaired and reckless driving.”

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Realizing the terrible tragedies that have struck the Pike County area, as well as the rest of Alabama, with recent deaths on U.S. Highway 231 and the more recent tornadoes, Murphy said she has chosen to modify the “Grim Reaper Day,” as a less morbid experience for CHHS students.

“Our modification of the ‘Grim Reaper Day’ will include a gong sounding throughout our buildings every 49 minutes, because every 49 minutes in our country a death occurs due to impaired driving, reckless driving, or drug use,” Murphy said. “At the sound of the gong, a student posing as the Grim Reaper will appear in a class to retrieve a student who will be designated as dead the remainder of the day.”

Murphy said participants in Thursday’s program have “willingly and eagerly” agreed to be participants and their parents, likewise, have agreed.

“Upon retrieval by the Grim Reaper, the student will be escorted to the Drama Department where make-up will be applied to give the appearance of death and the student will dress in black and wear a sign explaining how the death occurred,” Murphy said. Murphy said during 7th period an assembly will be held for juniors and seniors in the school’s cafeteria where Resource Officer Donnie Barron will present a slide show as she shares startling statistics about prom night tragedies.

“After the assembly, the students will be released and the eight students who were ‘dead’ for the day will be lying on the lawn with white sheets,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the purpose behind the dramatic representation is because life is “a precious thing.”

“If this dramatization saves even one life Saturday night, then it is worth the discomfort that we may feel in portraying the realities of impaired and reckless driving,” Murphy said.