Harvard High School students learned the painful ramifications of drinking and driving at Wednesday’s Operation Prom.
Students heard firsthand accounts from special guests including Assistant State’s Attorney Tyler Mikan and Officer Ed Kohn.
Speaker Thomas Burleson, who lost his entire family to a drunk driver in 1999, shared his emotional personal story of grief, loss, and hope.
Working with the Harvard Fire Protection District, the Harvard Police Department, the McHenry County Coroner, and the McHenry County State’s Attorney, Harvard High School and Operation Click traditionally stage an automobile accident and its aftermath. Participants did not perform the outdoor simulation due to inclement weather conditions.
Nevertheless, the audience of students and staff were deeply affected by the speakers’ words.
“I don’t want to end up as another statistic of an alcohol-related crash,” high school senior Eric Diaz said. “There are other ways to have fun that don’t require the consumption of alcohol or drugs.”
Operation Prom is presented every four years to remind Harvard High School students to use caution and common sense when celebrating. According to the CDC, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens. The high school’s program focuses on prom because some of the highest teenage traffic fatalities occur from April through July.
Harvard EMT/Firefighter Mandy Adams has done Operation Prom for the past 20 years. “We hope that the presentation helps students’ understanding of the importance of not drinking and driving,” Adams said. “It can be heartbreaking to all those involved, especially when it’s preventable.”
Operation Click coordinated the event with Harvard High School’s Erin Harris, John Hollingsworth, and Kyle Kruse.