Students warn of drunk driving dangers

Laura Figi and Johnny Morreale

Prom is just around the corner, and along with all of the excitement comes a certain degree of worry. Drunk driving is always a major concern among parents and faculty, and this year the PALs and senior Jack Elliott have taken a stand against the long-lasting and permeating effects of driving under the influence through the use of displays throughout the school, made by the PALs, and a video narrative called “Death Crashes a Party,” directed by Elliott.

The displays and video were created in place of Shattered Dreams, which was cancelled this year due to Austin Police Department’s inability to sponsor. The movement was pushed back to accommodate prom season, rather than holding it in March.


“I think that people can connect with those posters or anecdotes,” junior Jack Smith said. “There’s always going to always be those people that vandalize things and don’t take things seriously but even those people had to take something away from it. I do think that next year we should maybe amp it up a little bit.”


Students in PALs were asked to produce the program by the principal Charles Little. The students formed a committee, Dreams Shattered, to brainstorm ideas in the hope of convincing students to avoid any risky behavior on prom night. Along the way, the team faced many obstacles, including a lack of available labor, as well as the difficulty in procuring material and molding it into a recognizable form.  


“One obstacle was getting everyone in a room together at the same time– we have a lot of kids who are doing their own different things and people dropping left and right,” Elliott said. “The biggest issue for any production and for this production was just coming up with ideas. Even if you have a concept you have to fill it in.”


Displays were placed in heavy traffic areas of the school: the main entrance, by the each set of stairs, dysfunction junction and on main street. Two posters contained statistics on drunk driving, and the rest acted as a more emotional approach— a few cross-shaped gravestones, and another depicting a girl in a hospital gown and a boy wearing a prison uniform.


“Our job was to prevent deaths from happening or even an injury from happening,” Smith said. “If one person saw that and changed their to mind to drink and drive or gave the keys to their friend instead, it could have saved people and that’s all that really matters.”


Elliott’s original short film presented a live action approach to the dangers of drunk driving and correct way to handle it. The film takes place at a house party where Elliott’s character is intoxicated and trying to get his keys back from a girl (Jaqueline Kotlarz), who is trying to persuade him to get a ride home from her sober friend instead.


“I heard a lot of students saying ‘oh, that was really shocking’,” Senior Jacqueline Kotlarz said. “I think they definitely made a difference, and if they can change one person’s opinion and make one person sure that they aren’t going to drink to drive, I think that makes a difference.”


The posters were taken down today, but the video can be found through any teacher or on Elliott’s YouTube channel, where you can also find many other short films that he has directed.


“No matter how much work or time I put into it, as long as I can make one person at least think about their decisions, then it’s worth my time,” Elliott said. “Even though I spent weeks on it, and hours editing, and trying to finish in time, I can’t complain about it while I’m doing it. My whole life has been worth it if I can do that.”