It’s a tough lesson to learn, but a group of Washington County High School seniors decided to try to get the message across to their classmates that drinking and driving can be deadly.
Students from the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) organization at the high school hosted a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) event at the school on Friday to enforce the seriousness of drinking and driving. Nicole Wheatley, Nikki Bartley and Jessica Lewis are three seniors behind the effort. Wheatley said she thinks the event was effective.
“What we’re doing is putting on this MADD project to try to prevent drinking and driving,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of students pass away. We’re hosting this for the school, to help them be aware of what’s going on. I think with the realistic stuff like the police, the ambulances and the casket and all, it’s going to help them realize what it’s all about and get the point across.”
Every student at the high school experienced the project, which was staged in four segments. Students walked from one segment to the next in groups of about 20 at a time. The first segment featured a group of students pretending to party and drink alcohol, then make the decision to drive to another party. From there, the students were led to the next scene, where they saw two wrecked vehicles, along with emergency responders working to rescue the victims of a crash. At the scene, a Washington County deputy was on hand to arrest the drunk driver.
Next came a visit to a makeshift emergency room inside the school, where the patients from the accident were being treated. As the result of the crash, the project called for one victim to die from injuries in the accident, and that took the students to the final scene, which as a funeral, complete with a hearse and casket.
“Our FCCLA club went to meetings and found that other schools did this. It’s something different our community hadn’t done, and the students felt there was a need. We wanted to do this last year, but we had a student who died as a result of an accident, so we waited. We felt fall break was a good time to do it,” said Sarah Raikes, who teaches consumer science at the school, as well as serving as advisor to the FCCLA club. “Some schools wait to do this at prom time, but kids are drinking all year, and we didn’t want to wait. Some kids see fall break as one big party, so we thought this was a good time to remind them they are not invincible, and that they can hurt themselves and others. They need to know that you may not die, but you can end your life by facing charges and being in prison for the rest of your life for taking someone else’s life.”
The students were assisted by several local groups, including Carey and Sons Funeral Home, Spring View Hospital, Blossoms and Bows, Lewis Auto Sales, Washington County Rescue Squad and Sheriff’s Office, as well as volunteers from St. Catharine College.