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Making the Right Choice Prom should be the best night of a high school student’s young life, but it also requires making the appropriate and responsible decisions SADD’S STUDENT OF THE YEAR Carrie Louise Sandstrom was born and raised in Bis- marck, North Dakota, where she graduated from Century High School in May 2012, and is now a fresh- man at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. She is majoring in communications and inter- national studies, with a minor in political science. Her parents, Gail Hagerty and Dale Sandstrom, both work for the state of North Dakota as a district judge and Supreme Court justice, respectively. Carrie has an older brother, Jack, a younger sis- ter, Anne, and two Siberian forest cats, Sasha and Bociphus. Carrie first got involved with SADD when she started at- tending Horizon Middle School in seventh grade. Since then she has been involved in several different aspects of the or- ganization. In her freshman year of high school, Carrie ran for the Northern Lights Advisory Board, which works on SADD prevention programming efforts in North Dakota, South Dako- ta, and Minnesota. Carrie served as a member of that board throughout her high school career and had the honor of serv- ing as the board’s Student of the Year her senior year. During her time on the board, Carrie worked with state legislators on bills to ban texting and driving and strengthening the require- ments to obtain a driver’s license. She spoke at the bill sign- ings of both pieces of legislation. Carrie also worked to address teen driver safety as a member of a community coali- tion on the issue. Carrie loves the power SADD gives young people to influ- ence their surroundings. As SADD National Student of the Year, Carrie holds a seat on the SADD National Board of Di- rectors and chairs the 7-member SADD National Student Leadership Council. She will serve as a SADD spokesperson at various conferences, media events, and public occasions. This selection makes Carrie eligible for an internship at the Na- tional Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in Wash- ington, D.C., during the summer of 2013. 32 PAGEANTRY ome girls dream about prom, pick out a $1,000 glit- tery dress a year in advance, and stress over who will accompany them as a date. I am not one of those girls. My Senior Prom was not something that I was eager- ly anticipating, and yet as I look back on the two-day span that was preparing for prom, attending prom and then sur- viving post-prom, I realize those two days and one night taught me more about my values than all the rest of my time in high school. I didn’t want to go to prom at all, and I definitely didn’t plan on it. I didn’t look for a date and I was amused by girls worrying about their own. But when the local foreign exchange student, Jirka—a tall, slim guy—asked me to be his date, I couldn’t say no. What I didn’t know when I agreed was prom is a lot more than glitter and tuxes... it’s about life choices and staying alive through the night. My senior prom had probably 50 attendees. Tops. Most of us ended up eating out at the same restaurant. Before we were admit- ted, we had to take a breathalyzer test, and then we were more or less free to do as we pleased. However, I was quick to learn that the choices of some were much different than my own. I was fortunate enough to have a background in SADD (Stu- dents Against Destructive Decisions), and I knew that one thing I didn’t plan on doing prom night was drinking alcohol or getting in a car with someone who was impaired. For me, the risk of death wasn’t worth it, the chance of getting hurt or seeing one of my friends get hurt wasn’t worth it, losing my own life wasn’t worth it. For after-prom, my date and I chose to go to the events planned by the school; we played poker for candy, battled on an indoor air soft gun course and partook in a fair share of laughs. Sure, it might not have been what the “cool” kids were doing, but that’s where the free food was and where the fun was, fun that didn’t come with the risk of getting in trouble with the police. Other after-prom parties can be outright dangerous. It can be far too easy to consume too much alcohol, which can result in alcohol poisoning or subsequent poor decisions. Prom shouldn’t be about throwing up in the corner; it should be about dancing in the middle of the crowd. My favorite thing about prom is the t-shirt, because—for real— who doesn’t love a free t-shirt? Some of my classmates came away from prom nine months later with a different keepsake, one that can’t be thrown in the clothes washer when it gets dirty. Unprotect- ed sex can be as deadly a decision as drinking and driving. STDs can force you to change your lifestyle, impact your relationship with your future spouse and cause irreparable damage to your body. I didn’t dream about prom, but now that I’m a freshman in col- lege I have an opportunity to dream about much bigger things in my future, the opportunity to dream about the places I want to go, the job I want to have and the person I want to be. The decisions you make at prom can make that night the highlight of your life or the end of it. Ⅺ S