Prom should be the best night of a high school
student’s young life, but it also requires making
the appropriate and responsible decisions
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.
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