This year, a local committee is trying to make prom a little safer.
The Carter County Substance Abuse Prevention Committee is launching Operation Prom, a multi-pronged push to keep parents and teenagers aware of the risks of substance abuse.
Cynthia Romine, with Wichita Mountains Prevention Network, said this new effort is meant specifically to reach teenagers in the lead-up to prom, when the temptation to drink or use drugs might increase.   
“We figured we could do a pre-prom thing where we could talk about how prom is a time for them to have fun, and it might be a time when they’re being offered substances,” Romine said. “Just because it’s prom and they want to have fun doesn’t make it a good idea to try them.”
Students in Carter County will record Public Service Announcements that will later be broadcasted during morning announcements at participating schools and on the radio. One PSA script will focus on encouraging parents to talk to their kids, while a second will be geared toward the students themselves.  Multiple schools were invited to participate, but only one is confirmed so far. Romine said including students in the process was a conscious choice.
“Youth are more likely to listen to other youth than they are to listen to adults,” Romine said.
Chelsey Stevenson, a prevention specialist with WMPV, said hearing the message from a fellow student makes it more likely to sink in.
“If we target it and word it in a way where we’re being real, and getting on their level and their playing field, most likely they’ll listen to it,” Stevenson said. “We’re stressing that we want them to be safe while having fun.”
WMPN will also host chaperone training for anyone chaperoning proms and graduation, ensuring they know what to look for and how to recognize signs of intoxication.
“We want to make sure the chaperones are aware and know what to look for,” Romine said.
The committee will also work with Ardmore Police Department to conduct alcohol compliance checks at local retailers during the lead-up to area proms.
As a final measure, students can also participate in an art contest. Contestants can submit artwork that incorporates the slogan, “A night to remember, so don’t forget,” in some way. The winning drawing will be turned into a flyer and posted in participating schools. Romine said students from any Carter County high school can participate, even if their school isn’t participating. The submission deadline is April 1. Contest details are available at the CCSAC Facebook page or by contacting ccsapc@gmail.com.
Stevenson said in the future, they plan to expand the event and add more programming for students and parents.