South Orangetown Central School District

On June 5, Tappan Zee High School juniors and seniors attended a somber, moving presentation by Anastasia Karassik (TZHS, ‘94) of The Larisa Karassik Foundation and Rockland County Sheriff’s Office Detective Robert Moger about making good choices regarding substance use and driving under the influence. Ms. Karassik’s daughter Larisa, age 13, was killed by a drunk driver in May 2015. Had she survived, Larisa would be graduating high school this year. “This was an avoidable act. Make smart decisions. Your decisions affect many people around you. You can’t take this back,” said Ms. Karassik. “Make a plan before you go out. Have a parent or someone you trust who will pick you up, no matter what, no questions asked. Once you start drinking, you can’t make rational decisions.”

Following the presentation and Q&A, juniors returned to class while seniors remained to view a powerful performance by the TZHS SADD Club re-enacting the hours leading up to a fatal car crash involving fictional high school students and their prom. Seniors moved from the auditorium out to the side parking lot, where club members and local first responders were engaged in an intensely realistic accident simulation, from response and rescue to arrest and arraignment. “This message is not just for the next week or two, it’s for your whole life,” noted teacher Gene Kousoulas, who co-advises the TZHS SADD Club with teacher Sue Maher.

The SADD presentation is an annual TZHS event. “Each year, as our school community prepares for prom and graduation, we try to demonstrate the potential ramifications of poor decision-making as powerfully as possible in the hopes that our students will choose wisely in their own celebrations and beyond,” said Principal Dr. Jennifer Amos.

TZHS SADD advisors Gene Kousoulas and Sue Maher would like to thank all who made today’s event possible: Orangeburg, Sparkill-Palisades and Tappan Fire Departments; Orangetown Police Department, South Orangetown Ambulance Corps, Orangetown Justice Patrick Loftus, Orangetown Highway Department, Rockland County Chopper 1, Rockland County Medical Examiner’s Office, Rockland County Sheriff’s Office, and Rockland Paramedics. Special thanks to teachers Donna Grasso, Patricia Kilkelly and Brian Newburger for their assistance with the performance and to SDK Entertainment for donating sound equipment and expertise.

More photos on Facebook.

Student walking away from mock accident with police officers