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Insight from WFPD: Community asked to provide alternatives to curb underage drinking

North Dakota continues to lead the nation in many categories of agricultural production and a variety of industrial applications. North Dakota also is ranked high in several surveys relating to quality of live standards. Unfortunately, North Dakota also ranks first in the nation in underage and binge drinking.

Alcohol continues to be the most abused drug in the nation and is the most widely used illegal substance consumed by youth. The North Dakota Department of Health and North Dakota Department of Transportation provide educational material and sponsor training programs in an attempt to reduce alcohol misuse and abuse. The Department of Transportation also provides funding to law enforcement agencies to conduct enforcement actions directly targeting underage drinking.

Locally, the West Fargo Public Schools provides education on the negative affects of drug use to include the use of alcohol. The programs are taught in multiple grade levels and are age appropriate. The programs deal with the physical affects of drugs and alcohol; teaches abstinence relating to the use of illegal substances; and coaches youth in tactics to deal with peer pressure. The West Fargo Police Department partners with the schools to provide education opportunities through the School Resource Officers, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and Alive at Twenty-Five.

The hours following Prom and Graduation have historically been some of the most tragic across North Dakota due to crashes involving alcohol. Education programs alone do not provide the complete solution. It is also necessary to provide safe alternatives for youth to take part in. Organized events such as the Post-Prom and Post-Graduation events offer youth an ability to gather and have fun in a supervised environment.

The Post-Prom and Post-Graduation events are hosted by parents and supported by local organizations and businesses. Participants are expected to follow strict rules relating to behavior to be able to participate. The Prom is Saturday, May 5, with the Post-Prom event being held at The Schlossman YMCA from midnight to 3 a.m. Graduation is held Sunday, June 3, with the Post-Graduation event being held at the high school from 10:30 p.m. until 4 a.m.

Business owners and retailers are asked to consider donating items that would be useful to students headed to college or to the work force. Funding is also needed to cover rental and event costs. Community members can help by making a donation or volunteering to assist. People are needed to help prepare for the events or by attending the events as chaperones.

Anyone with questions or comments can call Michelle Reitan at 701-388-2624 or e-mail To learn more about the events visit the organizer's web site at