Brianna Hodges, a rising senior at William Byrd High School, is the winner of the 2019 After Prom Grand Finale Grand Prize and is now the owner of a brand new 2019 Nissan Kicks SV from First Team Nissan.
She drew the key that unlocked the car at a special celebration at the Salem Civic Center on June 2.
The After Prom Grand Finale (APGF) committee said, “This precious young lady didn’t win a car; she earned it by pledging to be alcohol- and drug-free on prom night. We are so excited for Brianna!”
WBHS Principal Tammy Newcomb says this is the first time a Byrd student has won the After Prom car contest.
To qualify for the drawing, students must remain at their school After Prom party for the duration of the event. At William Byrd this year, that meant staying at the party until 2 a.m. on March 31. This year 386 students attended the WBHS After Prom event, with about 330 staying until the end.
At the end of the William Byrd After Prom evening, the names of several students were drawn to receive Golden Tickets to the Grand Finale. About 200 names were drawn from the 40 high schools across Southwest Virginia who participated.
“If one life was saved because of this, it is absolutely worth it,” said APGF Coordinator Becky Parr, who said the event’s numbers speak for themselves. “None of the schools that participate in the After Prom Grand Finale have had a drug- or alcohol-related incident on prom night in 31 years.”
Parr says she considers the event, with all the pomp and circumstance, an investment.
The APGF organization says, “Prom is one of the most exciting nights for a teenager, but it can also one of the most dangerous. Last year, 5,276 students from 40 high schools across Southwest Virginia stayed until the end of their school’s after-prom party because of the After Prom Grand Finale. That is 5,276 youth who made it home safely to their families after one of the biggest nights of their young lives.”
The total number of students attending After Prom events in Southwest Virginia in 2019 was approximately 5,251.
Statistics show that 67 percent of students who attended participating school after-prom parties stayed until the end; 78 percent of those students attended and stayed until the end because they wanted a chance to win the car.
The After Prom Grand Finale is an event owned by the YOVASO (Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety) Advisory Board, a nonprofit organization. Other sponsors for the APGF include First Team Auto Mall, Wheeler Broadcasting, Virginia First (WFXR), K92 Radio, the Salem Civic Center, Engelhardt and Partners Advertising, Member One, Mountain Valley Transportation, Carilion Clinic, Roanoke Gas, Bank of Botetourt, Blue Ridge Sportswear, and Cardinal Bicycle.
The APGF committee thanked RAYSAC, saying, “After Prom Grand Finale wouldn’t be celebrating its 31st anniversary without the passion and commitment of RAYSAC (Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition) over the past 30 years. They started it to save teenagers’ lives and fought for it year after year.”
Two second place qualifiers won MacBook Air laptops at the Grand Finale. All qualifiers who were present received a $20 gift card.
Brianna is the daughter of Denise and Shannon Hodges. The new Nissan replaces her current ride— a 2005 Nissan Murano. Brianna wanted to give the car to her mom, but her mother insisted that she keep it for herself.
Winning the car was not the only big event in Brianna’s week. She also plays center field for the William Byrd High School girls softball team that qualified for the state quarterfinals, scheduled to play Riverside High School on June 4. Hodges plays on a travel softball team as well and manages to keep a 3.8 Grade Point Average. She works at Country Corner in Bonsack.
High schools participating in the 2019 After Prom Grand Finale included: Alleghany, Bassett, Bath County, Blacksburg, Bland County, Cave Spring, Chatham, Council, Covington, Craig County, East Rockingham, Eastern Montgomery, Franklin County, George Wythe, Giles, Glenvar, Grundy, Hidden Valley, James River, Jefferson Forest, Lord Botetourt, Magna Vista, Martinsville, Narrows, North Cross, Northside, Parry McCluer, Patrick Henry, Pulaski County, Radford, Roanoke Catholic School, Rockbridge County High School, Rural Retreat High School, Rustburg High School, Salem, Stuarts Draft, Turner Ashby, Twin Valley, William Byrd and William Fleming.
There is no charge for high schools to participate in the After Prom Grand Finale— they just need to hold the After Prom Party.
Added incentives which encourage students to stay the night at the William Byrd After Prom each year are the periodic drawing for gift cards. This year parents and businesses donated about 90 gifts cards/gift certificates, three valued at $250, $100, and $50.
Students who stay until the end also win a T-shirt— the theme this year for After Prom at William Byrd and the T-shirt was the Harry Potter-themed “The Wizarding World of William Byrd.” And from now on, there will be the incentive of knowing that a fellow William Byrd student actually won the grand prize.