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May 24, 2009

Res students feel impact of pre-prom program

By Dawn Bangert and Gina Cetrone


The ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars roll in. Lights flashing. Sirens wailing. Blood everywhere. Tragic accident or tragic accident prevention? Thanks to the Bleicher family, it was the latter of the two. Operation Prom Night has been an annual event at Resurrection High School, 7500 W. Talcott, since its conception in the 1990s. This simulation of a drunkdriving accident is meant to be a deterrent to teens who are considering drinking and driving, especially during prom season.

On April 1, two mutilated cars were brought into the Resurrection parking lot in preparation for the events of the next day. When the time arrived April 2, two seniors from St. Patrick High School, Hubie Jasiewcz and Matt Labek, arrived, tuxedos in hand, ready for the makeup artists to transform them into car crash victims. Katie Lutzow and Lindsay O’Callaghan, seniors at Resurrection High School, sported ruined prom dresses and blood splattered faces.

Despite the fact that Lindsay was a part of this simulation, seeing her best friend and future college roommate, Katie, cold and motionless on the hood of a car made her stop and think, “This could have been real. Even though I was a part of this, it still affected me and made it hard for me to watch.”

Seeing fellow Res girls speckled with blood and laying lifeless amongst the wreckage was a difficult sight to see. As one junior recalled, “When they unveiled the tarp, I was horrified. It made me realize how one bad decision could end it all.”

Many girls were brought to tears as junior Dawn Bangert read a moving piece depicting the thoughts of one of the victims who could no longer speak, due to the fact that she was being carried away in a body bag.

After viewing this heartbreaking event, students were lead into Resurrection’s Little Theater, where a presentation was given by people who work directly with, or have been directly affected by, drunk driving. One woman’s story was especially memorable. Traffic safety consultant and antidrunk driving activist Marti Belluschi was gravely injured by a drunk driver as a teenager. The consequences for drunk driving are much stricter now than when Belluschi and her father were struck by a drunk driver in 1964, in part because of her advocacy.

Anne Brown-Bleicher, a Resurrection alumna with five daughters who are also Res alums, founded this Operation Prom Night. Her five daughters have decided to carry on the tradition even after Anne’s death in 2008.

“My mom always said if she could change one person’s mind then the program had done its job,” said Christine Bleicher. With an uncle paralyzed and a cousin killed by drunk driving, Anne was inspired to prevent future tragedies such as these. The students at Resurrection High School have heard the message to be safe and be smart on Prom Night, and always.

Bangert and Cetrone attend Resurrection High School and are members of the Class of 2010.