The No Empty Chair Campaign
As we approach the end of the school year, we have many celebratory events to look forward to. Unfortunately though, as we prepare for this happy time of year, we also prepare for the most lethal time of year for teen drivers.
In our discussions with parents, staff, town officials and our local first responders, they share with us that the issue of driving while intoxicated during prom and graduation season is of the greatest concern to our community. As many of you are painfully aware, the Rockland County and Clarkstown communities have experienced tragic losses in recent years due to this issue.
In response, the Clarkstown Central School District (CCSD) will partner with the Clarkstown Police Department (CPD) and the Clarkstown Council of PTAs (PTA) this month to remind young drivers of their responsibilities as motorists and the very real consequences of impaired, reckless or distracted driving. As part of New York State's 2023 “No Empty Chair” campaign, CCSD and CPD will organize educational activities and student-focused events during this season.
The statewide “No Empty Chair” campaign raises teen driver awareness of roadway dangers in the hope there will be no more empty chairs during prom and graduation season. Regrettably, one chair will be empty this spring in memory of a Clarkstown High School South student tragically killed in a recent accident. Together, we can — and must — work to have this never happen again.
The 2023 "No Empty Chair" themes are below. Events and activities to educate and raise awareness will continue throughout the school year.
- Monday, April 26, 2023 – Speeding in School Zones/ Introduction
- Tuesday, April 27, 2023 – Seat Belt and Child Restraints
- Wednesday, April 28, 2023 – Cell Phone Use and Texting
- Thursday, April 29, 2023 – Operation Safe Stop
- Friday, April 30, 2023 – Underage Drinking and Impaired Driving
As an integral part of the program, the Clarkstown Police Department will increase patrols near CCSD schools focusing on the No Empty Chair themes including speeding in school zones, cell phone use and texting while driving, passing stopped school buses, and underage drinking and impaired driving.
We urge everyone — parents, caregivers, coaches, club leaders, mentors and others — to speak with our children and young drivers about safe and responsible behaviors. We recognize that at both Clarkstown High Schools North and South this issue is particularly painful to discuss because of the recent losses. We ask that everyone be as sensitive as possible to those who have been personally impacted by such events. We understand that there can be different views on the best way to address this challenging issue, but we all want to make sure it does not happen again.