Nees traveling to two county schools preaching prom safety
In the coming weeks, students from the four Putnam County High Schools will put on their best.
Boys will rent their tuxedos, buy the corsage, save money for a lavish meal, and clean out the car about 100 times, while girls will slip on their dresses, style their hair, and don the high heels.
And all Shannon Nees wants to see is those students be as safe as possible.
The four county schools have proms scheduled coming up in the next few weeks, and Nees is making her rounds again this year talking to students about prom safety.
Nees, a fifth-grade teacher at Central Elementary School, spoke to students in the South Putnam Community School Corp. Tuesday, pleading with them to be safe when they head out to prom. She will speak at Cloverdale in May.
Her daughter was seriously injured in an automobile accident on the way to the Cloverdale prom several years ago.
Brittney Nees was only a freshman at the time and was one of three passengers in a vehicle driven by then Cloverdale senior Matt Johnson, who died in the car accident.
"This is my first one this year," Nees said Tuesday about speaking at South Putnam. "I think it's real important. It's a reminder before they get out on the roads."
On Tuesday, she relived the tragic events that left her daughter with lasting brain damage. However, she said Brittney will graduate from college this year.
"I told them how pre-prom was for our family," Nees said, "and about getting that phone call."
Nees said she has seen a dramatic difference in recent years regarding students and safety.
"I think it helps a lot," she said. "I came to the South Putnam promenade last year and I'd bet that 90 percent (of the students) had their seat belt on. That made me feel really good. If it just saves one, that's worth it."
South Putnam and North Putnam both have proms scheduled for April 29, while Greencastle's is scheduled for Saturday. Cloverdale has prom slated for May 6.
For the second straight year, Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter donated $500 grants to each school stressing safety on the roads.
Bookwalter said the money comes from pre-trial diversions.
"You always think of the prosecutor sitting up here and prosecuting, but we can give something back," Bookwalter said.
"Last year, we had a good, safe prom season."
Bookwalter said students pay attention to Nees when she relives her tragedy.
"That has an effect coming from a parent like nothing can," he said.
In order to receive the grant money, all four county schools had to present a safety program to students.
In October 2005, Greencastle students were treated to a convocation featuring Paul "Fritz" Dunbar.
GHS prom committee representative Linda Schroeder said Dunbar spoke to the students about drug and alcohol use, suicide and other teen issues.
Schroeder added that students who planned to attend the GHS prom were asked to sign an agreement stating they would not use drugs or alcohol at the prom or post-prom this year.