High school students are used to getting lectures about bad behavior from their parents and other adults.
Thinking teenagers may listen to the younger generation, members of the Chaparral High School SADD club visited Nicolas Valley Elementary on Friday afternoon to collect cards of encouragement that first-graders wrote to seniors in advance of the high school prom.
Children in six classrooms wrote and drew cards with messages such as "Don't drink and drive," "Be safe" and "Make good decisions."
The cards will be posted in senior English classrooms ahead of the May 5 prom in San Diego.
"We're trying to give the seniors the idea they have someone looking up to them and we don't want to disappoint them," said Kevin Casasola, a 17-year-old junior and SADD co-president.
Club members also filmed messages from their young counterparts that will be included in a commercial to be shown as part of the daily announcements at the Temecula high school.
While on camera, Makenna Chang, 7, was asked what message she has for the teenagers.
"Don't do drugs," she said. "It's a bad thing."
Makenna wants the older students to have a safe prom night.
"We're encouraging people to make good choices and not to die after prom night," Makenna said.
Educators hope the messages from Makenna and other members of the class of 2023 will resonate with the class of 2012.
Makenna's teacher, Penny Bonnell, said she spoke to her students about prom and the dangers of drinking and driving.
"We spend a lot of time in first grade talking about making good choices and how the choices they make affect their life," Bonnell said.
SADD stands for Students Against Destructive Decisions. The 100-member club at Chaparral is dedicated to preventing underage drinking, drug use, risky and impaired driving, teen violence and teen suicide.
Club adviser Jackie Schmidt said she hopes the teenagers heed the messages from the first-graders.
"Every inch of encouragement we can give a student helps," she said. "Maybe it stops somebody from making a bad decision if these little guys see them as role-models."
SADD member Morgan Smith, 17, a senior who attended Nicolas Valley, said she believes the messages will be received by her peers.
"When we see the younger generation looking up to us, it brings back the innocence we had," she said.
The 35 Chaparral students who visited Nicolas Valley on Friday split up among the classrooms, helping the youngsters work on their messages.
First-graders were given cards to decorate that featured a puma, which is the Chaparral mascot, and a knight, which is the Nicolas Valley mascot.
"I wrote have a good wife or husband and good luck making good choices," Caelon Schmid, 7, said of his message.
Classmate Mackenzie Jewers, 7, said she wrote "have fun."
"I also drew hearts around the words," Mackenzie said. "I said that they would have a great time at the prom."
After the messages are posted at Chaparral, the seniors will write back to the first-graders.
Elementary students are impressed that a high school senior cares about what they have to say, SADD co-president Mae Tamayo said.
"(We) have to live up to the expectations of being a role model," said Tamayo, a 16-year-old junior.
This is the third year for the letter-writing program, which will see club members visiting Rancho Elementary later this month.
Car crashes are the #1 cause of death among teenagers - DCH Auto Group's new and used car dealerships are working to change that. Read about DCH Honda of Temecula's involvement with SADD and the DCH Teen Safe Driving Program.