This was not your typical pre-prom assembly, where a parent gives a heart-wrenching talk about losing his son or daughter to a drunk driver. Or a convicted drug user talks about how he messed up his life and those of the people he loved most through his actions.
While speakers like that offer powerful messages, they aren't always able to engage kids, who are thinking about that project that's due tomorrow, or the hair appointment they forgot to make or if their parents will host a post-prom party.
Members of Citizens Who Care (CWC) wanted to try something different this year. The stars aligned because AAA and the Governor's Highway Safety office were looking to bring ThinkFast Interactive to Rhode Island.
ThinkFast, based in Michigan, is a program entertaining kids while educating them at the same time. Earlier this month, the auditorium at East Greenwich High School was transformed into a live game show studio, complete with a host and player podiums and, perhaps most important for kids these days, everyone in the audience had access to controllers (think "remotes").
Each team was made up of four or five students and each team had a controller to answer questions flashed on big screens.
Many questions were based on popular culture, but sprinkled throughout were questions about driving, and alcohol and drug use ("how many passengers can a brand new driver have in the car?" or, "what has more alcohol: a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of hard liquor?").
It seemed to work. The auditorium was ALIVE with activity, kids working together, coming up with answers, cheering on their teammates, laughing at the high school yearbook picture of Ryan Seacrest.
CWC's Beth Hopkins said she was very pleased with the event. The cost to bring ThinkFast to Rhode Island was covered by AAA, with help from the state.
“It was a nice community event with people coming together to do something good for our kids,” said Asst. Principal Tim Chase.