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The promise of a safe prom
ECHS gets SAFE Prom grant for 2010s big night
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Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie presents the Effingham County High School junior class officers with a grant from the Peace Officers Association of Georgia and Planters Telephone Cooperative to help ECHS stage an alcohol-free prom. - photo by Photo by Calli Arnold

Effingham County High School received a $2,500 SAFE Prom grant from the Peace Officers’ Association of Georgia to promote an alcohol free prom.

This is the fourth year ECHS has received the grant. Each year, the junior class organized activities that promote awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving during one week before prom night.

This year, they will have a school-wide red shirt day, see videos, a mock wreck, a door decorating contest and a promise banner, which students will sign during lunch vowing not to drink and drive on the big night.

This year, that big night is April 17 for ECHS at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, where law enforcement will be on site. Local law enforcement will be notified of the event and will have extra patrol out to make sure the prom goers are getting home safely.

The grant was given by POAG, represented by its secretary-treasurer, John Conley, and was donated by Planters Telephone Foundation. POAG will check with area law enforcement to make sure they did not record any instances of ECHS students drinking and driving.

“You don’t really know what (this program is) worth because if it was your children, it’d be worth all the money you could rake up in one pile, and we try to look at it the same way,” Conley said.

Effingham Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie presented the check to the junior class officers, and he and Conley said they want to give a more positive image of law enforcement to young people.

“It’s an opportunity for us to let the young people understand that we’re not just out there to write them tickets and put them in jail if they mess up,” the sheriff said. “We want to make sure that when they go to prom they have great time and enjoy the prom and they come home to mama and daddy safely.”

Since the SAFE Prom program began in 2002, POAG has never recorded a drinking and driving incident on prom night in an area they sponsored.