RiverView Health, in partnership with the Crookston High School, Polk County Toward Zero Death Committee, and law enforcement, hosted a Pre-Prom Arrive Alive event for all Crookston Sophomore, Junior, and Senior High School Students this morning at the Crookston Armory.

As we are all aware, Crookston High School’s prom is on Saturday, and other schools will have theirs soon as well. It’s a time to celebrate the end of the school year, upcoming graduation, friendships, and a rite of passage for many, a time our juniors and seniors will remember for a lifetime.

Oftentimes, bad decisions can interject these events, making the evening memorable for the wrong reasons, so these community partners gathered together to use regional tools to put the event together as a kind reminder of what unhealthy choices can lead to.

The program was delivered three different times for the separate groups of students, with the sophomores coming in first from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m., followed by the juniors from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., and finally the seniors from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The event began with a speaker from Fargo named Kerry Leno, who told the students some of the bad choices she made during her childhood and her time at high school that had lasting effects on her life. Followed by a related movie created by the Minnesota State Patrol about how bad choices can impact people close to them. “Brad Norland will represent the Minnesota State Patrol to show a movie they designed called Life Without Logan. Many of our students who currently go through the Driver’s Education class with Principal Trostad have probably seen this. It’s a very impactful video that’s proudly displayed by the Minnesota State Patrol.” RiverView Health Chair Carrie Bergquist explained.

The students were then split into four stations that were set up to demonstrate the effects of impairment, depth perception, coordination, and balance. The first station was the Seatbelt Convincer. A student got strapped into a machine and simulated a low-impact collision between 5-10 mph to provide a firsthand experience of a collision. The second station was the Seatbelt Persuader, which also demonstrated the need for buckling up. The student was strapped into a contraption that slowly spun them upside down, so the students could feel what it was like to be in a rollover crash. The third station was a pedal cart course the students had to maneuver and weave in and out of cones while wearing Fatal Vision Goggles. The goggles gave the students an experience of what it is like to be impaired from drowsiness or distractions. The final station contained multiple related activities, such as the “Wheel of Distraction” and other activities, such as performing a walk-and-turn test and throwing bean bags while wearing the Goggles at different strengths.

The event would then end with Crookston High School Principal Nicki Martinez telling the students a story of a student who had lost his life in a car accident due to poor decisions and its impact on her, the school she was working for, and the student’s family. Saying that she still is in contact with the student’s family even after 20 years. The students then heard from the School’s Resource Officer, Don Rasicot, about safety tips they should follow and informed them that the Police Department would drop off a car that had been in a major accident in front of the school for them to see. “He has gotten a hold of a crash car that will be on display at the High School for the entire week leading up to Prom. The image of that crashed car will be very disturbing; however, we will have a great message to explain why it’s there and what we are trying to get across.” Bergquist explained, “Certainly not to scare anyone away, but definitely open their eyes on what bad decisions could lead to,” she added. The bus with the next grade of students would then arrive, drop them off, and take the other students back to the High School.

The students learned quite a lot from the event and the different stations, mainly the ones that used the Fatal Vision Goggles. “The Station with the Bean Bag throws was one that made me realize how difficult things were to do with the different vision levels of drunkenness, and the driving station was impactful too. Trying to maneuver around the cones and getting from point A to point B was quite a struggle with those goggles on.” Sophomore Cassie Solheim explained. The students explained they now feel more prepared and more cautious about their actions during fun events like Prom and other events to stay safe and alert. “We learned to be smart and make the right decision. I mean, we’re only 16 years old, and we don’t want to end our lives now.” Solheim explained.

The Crookston High School Prom is on Saturday, April 30, with doors opening at 4:50 p.m. A damaged car will sit in front of the school for the entire week leading up to it to remind the students of the lessons they learned today and what the consequences could be if they choose to make a poor decision.