Essay contest winner gets special treatment|[3/1/05]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Blue lights and sirens on prom night are usually not a good thing, but they will be this year for a Vicksburg High student.

The Vicksburg Police Department is sponsoring a student essay contest titled “What will it take to have a safe prom night?”

The contest is open to juniors and seniors at Vicksburg High School, and the winner will receive a chauffeured limousine ride for the night, a police escort to the prom, a hair makeover for the winner and his or her date, dinner for two at an area restaurant and gift certificates from department stores in Pemberton Square mall.

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The second place winner also receives dinner for two at an area restaurant and gift certificates from department stores in the mall.

Chief Tommy Moffett said this year’s plans might even top last year’s prom safety program police conducted in the VHS auditorium.

“Last year we spoke to the students and had people dressed as crash test dummies to focus on safety issues. The kids really enjoyed it,” Moffett said. “Unfortunately it didn’t work out for us to do that again this year, but we came up with the essay contest as a way for us to stay connected with the kids.”

Moffett said several officers plan on enjoying this year’s prom as well.

“We have a few who will go as chaperones – not in uniform, but in prom attire,” he said.

Lt. Walter Beamon and Officer Bobby Jones are spearheading the contest, and Beamon said the idea of an essay contest seemed to get more students involved in safety issues on a peer-to-peer level.

“We know what we think is safe, but we want to hear from them, also,” Beamon said. “This is a great way for them to see the other sides of it besides just having fun.”

He said the two main dangers associated with prom night are drinking and driving and improper behavior between young women and young men.

“We’ve all been to prom, and we know what it’s like to be away from our parents for a night of fun. We just want these students to understand that prom can be fun without being dangerous,” Beamon said.

He said the police department has gotten participation from sponsors, and hopefully the contest can include more area schools in future years.

The 500-word typed essays are due to designated VHS teachers Friday, and winners will be announced in a week. The prom is March 12.

Warren Central High School’s prom is April 23, and Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said either he or a deputy will present a safety program at the school the week of prom.