Theater director keeps 36-year-old promise

Teacher holds lifetime promise to abstain from alcohol, tobacco and drugs


Sara Rogers

Teacher Trent Hanna sets example for students by living a healthy lifestyle.

When he was 6 years old, technical theater director Trent Hanna made a special promise to himself. Throughout his life he has managed to maintain this promise. A promise to abstain. To stay pure and untouched. Untouched by any addictive substances. No smoking. No alcohol. No drugs. This oath is one that he has not regretted and one that has shaped his life for the better.

“When I was a little guy, about 6 or 7 years old, I promised God I would never do that, and I’ve stuck with it,” Hanna said. “ I’ve never seen really a need for it. I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff that comes from it. People will become abusive, have car accidents. When you drink, it feels good for you, but it’s a problem for your family. It just seems like a very selfish thing to do.”

This decision has shaped him and his experiences. While the people in his life didn’t understand his choice, he’s never felt judged by his friends.

“My friends in college really appreciated it because I was always a safe ride, I was always the designated driver,” Hanna said. “Whenever we went to clubs and stuff, I always got free soft drinks because I was the designated driver. My friends all knew about it. I think they respected it. It wasn’t a choice that they had made, and I never tried to lord it over anybody. It was just a personal decision.”

Choosing a clean lifestyle, of course, set him up for temptations to break his promise.

“I went on a trip to the South Pacific one time,” Hanna said. “We went through the jungles, and we were supposed to have a beer together when we got through the jungle. When we got out, I was like ‘you know what? I’m not going to give up my promise.’ I don’t care what people think of me. It may make me look foolish or silly or not a man or whatever. It’s my decision, so I’m sticking with it.”

His desire for control over any situation has helped him maintain this course.

“I’m kind of a control freak,” Hanna said. “I don’t like the feeling of being out of control. I think if I were to become intoxicated, it would be losing control. I don’t even like it when I sneeze or get the hiccups because I’m not in control of that. When I say I’m a control freak, it’s about myself. I like to be in control of my own self. I’m not a control freak in that I want to boss other people around or make decisions for other people. I just don’t want to lose control of myself.”

Even taking what many would consider the “high road”, Hanna still doesn’t feel he is worthy to judge anyone else for their personal decisions. He considers that humans are not perfect and shouldn’t pretend they are.

“I’m not trying to judge people,” Hanna said. “What you do in your own time is your own business, but it’s not the choice for me. You can make judgements about whether that’s something you want to do or not. You can make evaluations  if it’s the right choice for you, but as far as saying you’re better than somebody else, not really. There’s nobody that’s really good. Everybody has problems, faults. I think if you can’t see your own faults, you’re kidding yourself.”

Hanna does not regret his decision. He feels that there is no point in smoking or drinking, especially after spending his whole life abstaining from such practices.

“What’s to regret? I’ve got healthy lungs, a healthy liver,” Hanna said “There have been a lot things in my life that I’m not proud of. There have been some promises that I’ve made that I’ve broken, but I haven’t broken this one yet. That was like 36 years ago. If I haven’t broken it in thirty six years, I’m not going to start now.”