Pre-prom lesson about living

This Saturday night, Rappahannock County High School will host its Prom and After-Prom, an exciting well-deserved night of celebration, especially for graduating seniors who will be moving on with their lives.

Lives being the key word.

This past week, Rappahannock High School students grades 9 through 12 attended a “Pre-Prom Assembly” that featured as its special guest speaker Lieutenant Janie Jenkins of the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office.

Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Janie Jenkins. By Holly Jenkins

Lieutenant Jenkins addressed the student body about the heartbreaking consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. And she spoke from experience — personal, painful experience.

The students listened intently as the lieutenant shared her tragic story about losing her beloved sister, Jennifer, in an alcohol related accident several years ago. The assembly room was understandably quiet as the message sunk in.

Such a heartfelt story as recalled by the sheriff’s officer could have ended there, with students going on about their school day.

Yet Rappahannock school officials didn’t let it end, and for that they should be commended — from Superintendent Shannon Grimsley and RCHS Principal Karen Ellis down the chain of command.

As the assembly drew to a close, according to school information officer Holly Jenkins, each junior and senior were provided with an opportunity to sign a pledge, stating that they will be safe, drug free and sober on prom night. In addition, all students were handed a survey to complete regarding their awareness of school policies surrounding smoking and other nicotine devices.

Students who returned their surveys (happily collected, as you can see here by high school vice principal Jimmy Swindler) were eligible for prize drawings — Visa gift cards to Shell gasoline cards — compliments of Y Street (a Virginia foundation for healthy youth) and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions).

RCHS Vice Principal Jimmy Swindler. By Holly Jenkins

We wish all attendees the very best of proms Saturday night. As the saying goes, “You can get married three or four times, but a prom is a one in a lifetime experience.”

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