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BCHS focuses on safety through homecoming weekend

Reported by: Julie Tremmel

Videographer: B. DiGiovanni
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Updated: 10/15/2012 6:54 pm

Fall is here, and that means homecoming excitement at high schools around the Capital Region: but along with all the hoopla comes temptations for local teens.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about one-third of those accidents are alcohol-related.

MADD also reports that teen alcohol use kills 6,000 people every year, and studies show that one in five teens binge drinks.

Those numbers are the reason Bethlehem Central High School plans several annual activities, and keeps an open conversation about the dangers of booze, offering kids fun events that deter drinking all together.

On Friday night the Bethlehem Central football stadium was packed with Eagle fans. Several students said they think underage drinking is a problem.

Bethlehem Sophomore Keeley Hogan agrees.

"I guess it's kind of a big problem, because a lot of kids at our school do drugs and drink," she said.

Despite that, for the most part, Bethlehem students manage to stay safe.

BCHS administrators say that's no accident.

"I just stress to the students, look, we want to take good care of you, we want you to make smart choices and to be safe because we want to see you on Monday morning," Principal Scott Landry said.

He added, "One of the things we do at every dance is that every student has to go through a passive alcohol sensor and it just detects whether they have any alcohol on them, and really since we've instituted that, it's been over eight years now, we've had no issues at dances and we really try and keep everyone safe."

He said attendance was affected at first by the alcohol sensors. The number of students at dances dropped from 1,000 to about 100 the next dance, but they are now back up to 800 or 900 students per dance.

After speaking with several students, we found that they already have a plan in place way ahead of an event, in order to ensure everyone gets home safe.

When asked if she would feel comfortable asking her parents for a ride home if she needed one, Bethlehem sophomore Hannah Bennett said, "Yeah. That's never happened, but if it did, I would call my dad."

BCHS Sophomore Mary Grace Barada said, "I stay with a big group of friends, I make sure I have my phone on me at all times, and make sure my parents know where I'm going."

Bethlehem mom Mary Bayham said, "My son is on the football field. He's number forty five, and my daughter is a cheerleader. I'm with them here at the game and I'm enjoying it. My kids are too busy doing sports, and I'm with them, making sure they do the right thing."

Bayham thinks knowing where your teens are is half the battle.

She said, "Being here with this crowd and having a lot of parents here, it's the parents and the adults that are responsible that make the difference."

"I just stress to the students, look, we want to take good care of you. We want you to make smart choices and to be safe because we want to see you on Monday morning," Principal Landry said.

He added that the mock drunk driving crash the school holds every spring goes a long way toward inspiring the students to make good choices.

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