A simulation presentation known as “Every 15 Minutes” was held April 6-7 in order to promote awareness of drunk driving to the student body. The program, which featured a mock car crash and funeral, was organized by the school administration as well as officials from Santa Clara County, in the hope of reducing the potential for future accidents.
Deans Brian Dong and Brooke Chan, along with organizations and agencies such as the American Red Cross, California Highway Patrol and Santa Clara County Sheriff Department, coordinated the event. These preparations were arranged several months before the final presentation with the help of student coordinators Elizabeth Cook and Erika Yasuda.
Being directly involved in arranging the program has allowed Dong to gain a personal meaning.
“Every 15 Minutes is important to high school students because it gives them all… the opportunity to be informed about the risks of alcohol and poor decision making,” Dong said.
Students were picked by Cook and Yasuda and approved by Dong and Chan months in advance.
“We try very hard to select students so that… a majority of the students have a connection with [the participants]. Either they know that person, can relate to that person or have class with that person,” Dong said. “It is the most important to create a connection for kids and that connection in itself is the most impactful part.”
Tuesday morning on April 5 marked the start of the program, with a preparation meeting occurring before school. The simulation began when students, called the “Living Dead,” were pulled out of class by a “Grim Reaper,” intended to portray death taking the victims of drunk driving-related incidents.
These “Living Dead” disappeared between first and third period, but reappeared at the car crash scene during the upperclassmen assembly.
Parents, volunteers and students gathered in the wrestling room in order to review all plans and to prepare for the upcoming day.
During the car crash simulation, senior Dylan Remahl played the role of a drunk driver, while senior Teddy Tefera played the passenger that died on impact. Juniors Courtney Martin and Emily Holden acted as the driver and passenger, respectively, who sustained critical injuries and later died at the hospital.
A mock funeral was held the following day, where friends and family read grievance letters to an assembled audience of students and staff.
Chan said she recognizes this as one of the most meaningful parts of the simulation.
“I think it has an emotional impact on students so for me, that’s when the learning starts to take place,” Chan said.
The front row attendees included parents and friends of the “Living Dead,” along with the volunteers of the “Every 15 Minutes” program. The audience consisted of juniors and seniors, experiencing this program for the first time.
“You don’t really think about the consequences to the choices that you make. This program kind of brings that to the forefront,” Jayna Lloyd said. Her daughter, senior Megan Lloyd, participated as one of the “Living Dead.”
Principal Greg Giglio made a speech in front of the student body to remind everyone why such a program exists and the positive effects it has had over the years.
“With the implementation of new laws and programs such as this, the death rate is now every 36 minutes,” Giglio said in his speech.
Guest speaker Louise Garces recounted her story of how a motor vehicle accident involving alcohol took the life of her son, Brian, the day of his twenty-first birthday. Her story could have been connected to the audience of juniors and seniors that are getting closer to the legal drinking age.
“I understand now that after a few drinks, the promises you make, they go out the window,” Garces said. “You believe it’s not going to happen to you. I’m here to tell you that it can. It did to Brian.”
Student who took part in the program were encouraged to reflect on their participation and discuss with others how this experience impacted them.
“It’s important because it shows the consequences of our actions which we don’t really think about,” senior Odette Wang said.
Others reflected on the program itself. Megan Lloyd said she thought the presentation was important because it offered a personal insight on how drunk driving can affect the lives of others and urges more people to pay attention to the issue.
“We need to spread information about this kind of stuff. It’s a creative way of showing the effects of [alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents],” Lloyd said.