Love Letters for Life

Prom night wishes from little kids to big kids inspire good choices

WHAT:  After Prom Party
WHO:  Fairview, Boulder HS, New Vista Prom Goers
WHEN:  April 27, Midnight – Sunrise  (Open House, 8 – 10 p.m.)
WHERE: East Boulder Rec Center

Here in Boulder and across the nation, schools and families try to keep prom goers safe on a night that nationally sees a significant increase in impaired driving fatalities and risky behaviors. AAA says that prom night initiates “The 100 Deadliest Days”  teen driving season.

But dire talks and statistics don’t often override a teenager’s unique sense of invincibility – especially when it’s all dressed up in a tuxedo.

So roughly 15 years ago, a group of Boulder parents wondered just who teens might listen to. This question became the genesis of a simple program connecting juniors and seniors with young people through letters –  thousands of them –  in which little writers remind prom goers to think and choose wisely on prom night.

The hope was that the advice would make a powerful emotional impression by reminding teens of their younger selves, and by creating a sense of obligation not to let the young writer down.

Parent Charlotte Shifrin has coordinated the program for Boulder High for the past six years. She learned about it when her now high-school-age children wrote the letters in their elementary years.

“I think the letters remind teenagers of a younger, more innocent time in their lives – and that’s powerful,” she says. “The letters are often sweet and kind and funny and sad. Most often they are totally from the heart, and that is what touches us all and truly makes a difference in decision making for these teens.”

“My friends and I all really love getting the letters,” says daughter Natalie, who wrote the letters while at Flatirons elementary and is getting her last one this week as a senior at Boulder High.  “It’s kind of hard to disregard a little kid telling you not to do bad things on prom night.”

Boulder High senior Zach Quinlan doesn’t call the letters powerful, but he concedes that the young writers’ advice might be more convincing than a parent’s lecture.

“If the connection is personal it might make a person think and take the advice to heart,” he says.

Zach is a chef and future restaurateur. He and some close friends plan to kick off prom night with dinner at Il Pastaio. He said everyone in the group appreciates great food, and wouldn’t let drinking interfere with their plans. Natalie and her friends are planning a huge potluck ahead of prom, and will definitely attend the AFTER PROM party.

AFTER PROM.  Just as named, the party for prom goers from Boulder High, Fairview and New Vista is held at East Boulder Rec center beginning at midnight. Festivities include casino games, dancing – even sumo wrestling – until the sun comes up. Raffles go on all night. At 3:45 a.m., a car donated by Flatirons Imports is given to a winner who must be present to win.

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