By Rosa Cesareo
To spread awareness about the dangers of drinking and texting while driving, Every 15 Minutes will reach out to students on Nov. 17 through graphic simulations and an emotional assembly. The program will feature an imitated traffic collision as well as speakers who share how a fatal car crash will forever affect their lives.
Mr. Joe King, assistant principal, is in charge of the planning and organization of the event. “We’ve been working with the Henderson Police Department since March, picking the 32 students that will be participating,” King said.
Commencing the first day, the “Grim Reaper” will take an individual out of class every 15 minutes, and a police officer will enter the classroom immediately to read the student’s obituary aloud. The student then returns as a corpse, unable to interact with anyone for the remainder of the day.
“The Grim Reaper symbolizes death,” Austin Cassell, a participating junior, said, “When kids get pulled from their classes and there are empty seats, it makes people realize what it really would be like to lose a peer. This is really significant to me because I’ve seen friends get in the car with people who really weren’t fit to drive.”
During lunchtime, there will be a simulated traffic collision with cars from actual accidents on school grounds; rescue workers will treat injured students, a coroner handles on-scene fatalities, and the drunk driver is interrogated and arrested. Students will watch the realistic and graphic imitation to understand the severity of being distracted while behind the wheel.
“The car crash is most impactful when students go see their friends all bloody, in a body bag, on a stretcher,” King said. “The sirens are going, and when the helicopter takes off it’s very dramatic.”
A mandatory assembly will follow, in which junior and senior students hear the tragic recounts of horrific accidents from hospital personnel and police officers. A heartrending speaker will share his or her story of losing a child as a result of impaired driving. Underclassman students will attend a similar assembly on November 17.
“I think it’s important to educate high school students on the consequences of drinking and driving and how it affects not only you, but those around you,” Maddie Griffin, 11, said, “It’s a very relevant topic because of how so many teenagers are influenced to drink.”
To conclude the program participating students will go on a retreat at a local hotel, symbolizing the separation from family, and they will further discuss the dangers of drinking and driving.