Police hope film delivers message

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2000

Nearly every year, a Natchez High student dies or is seriously injured in a drunk driving accident — and Assistant Principal Cloyce Hinton does not want it to happen again.

That’s why he was happy the Natchez police and Mothers Against Drunk Driving brought the 40-minute film “Take the Lead”&160;to the school for the first time Monday to show students the importance of driving sober.

“To say kids this age are not going to drink is putting our heads in the sand,”&160;Hinton said. “But we can teach them how to be responsible. At this age, they feel indestructible … but life can be taken away in a heartbeat.”

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More than 2,500 students will watch the film this week. Central Alternative students watched at Natchez High, and Natchez Middle School students and Cathedral’s seventh- through 12th-graders will watch today. Seventh- through 12th-graders at Trinity and high schoolers at Adams County Christian School will watch Thursday. The film, shown on three screens in Natchez High’s auditorium, mixed high-decibel alternative and pop music with music videos and movie sports clips to get students’ attention.

But interspersed with the music was the message that students need to be leaders in stopping people they know from driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. One clip showed a young man telling a student assembly of how his drunk driving killed his two best friends. In another, a young woman told of how she stopped a boy she was babysitting from getting in the car with his mother, who was drunk. His mother later ran her car into a utility pole.

“When the guy talked about his two friends being killed … that really makes you think,”&160;said Natchez High junior Kendrick Fletcher. “It shows you that drinking — especially drinking and driving — isn’t as great as the commercials make it out to be.”

“We can’t hope to reach everybody, but if we can reach just some of them, it’s worth it,”&160;said Angie Brown, a secretary and grant coordinator with the Natchez Police Department.

It cost the city $3,000 to show the film. In a few weeks, Natchez police will also bring back to Natchez schools goggles that simulate for students how drinking affects one’s perception.

Staff writer Emily Whitten contributed to this report.