An effort to keep Bland County juniors and seniors safe and sober on prom night just got better.

Each year, students are enticed to participate in a post-prom lock-in with the promise of games, prizes, food and fun. This year, the pot got sweetened with a chance for students to win a brand new 2019 Nissan Kicks

Donated by First Team Nissan in Roanoke as part of the After Prom Grand Finale initiative, the Kicks will be raffled off in June. Students from 39 participating schools have a chance to snag the keys.

While Bland County’s after prom lock-in is generally well-attended, Bland County High School teacher Angel Leftwich thinks the chance to win the Kicks will help bolster participation.

“It definitely helps. This is a $21,000 car” Leftwich said on Monday. “The car was here today and they all got to go out and sit in it and check out all the high-tech features—it’s got all the features you could want.”

But in order to win, students will have to stick around for the duration of the lock-in, which begins immediately after prom and lasts until 5 a.m.

“It keeps kids from going out and doing things they shouldn’t be doing, especially drinking and driving, and partying,” said Leftwich, who has a daughter in the junior class this year. “It’s a safe place where they can have fun and win prizes and money.”

During the lock-in, held at the Wytheville Community Center, students will have access to the center’s gym, rock wall and teen center. Participants will take one another on in Nerf gun wars, run obstacle courses and bounce around on inflatables, as well as play a number of games. Prizes include mini refrigerators, a microwave, gift cards for local restaurants and cash, among others prizes. Food and refreshments will also be provided, so participants can refuel throughout the night and do it all over again.

At the end of each schools lock-in, organizers will draw six students’ names from each participating school. Those students will then go on to be eligible for the final drawing in June.

Organized by Youth of Virginia Speak Out, a youth leadership organization that focuses on saving the lives of teenage drivers, the After Prom Grand Finale began 30 years ago. The organization’s website boasts that no participating school has experienced the tragedy of a drug or alcohol-related accident on their prom night since the initiative began.

Bland County’s after prom lock-in is made possible by donations from individuals and local businesses. Leftwich noted students’ appreciation and encouraged those interested in sponsoring or donating for next year’s event to contact the school.

Bland County’s juniors and seniors will don their prom garb this Saturday.

Jasmine Dent Franks can be reached at

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