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Every 15 Minutes assembly has major effect on students

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Every 15 Minutes assembly has major effect on students

Students gather to observe the chilling staged accident scene.

Students gather to observe the chilling staged accident scene.

Jackie Bell

Students gather to observe the chilling staged accident scene.

Jackie Bell

Jackie Bell

Students gather to observe the chilling staged accident scene.

Eric Booth and Jackie Bell

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Drinking and driving has grown to be one of the common causes of death in the United States, and as this problem worsens, more and more people are finding ways to help ease this epidemic.

Since 2011, the administration in Hillsborough has implemented “Every 15 Minutes,” an influential and inclusive program meant to open the eyes of graduating seniors to the effects of drunk driving.

This past week, the class of 2019 received the powerful message about the dangers of driving while intoxicated in a way that hits close to home. The event clearly represented the consequences that can occur as a result of driving under the influence through the use of actual student volunteers. Over the course of two days, students observed a condensed simulation of the nightmare and tragedy that unfolds when someone takes the wheel after drinking.

On Thursday, day one of the simulation, students gathered in the field behind the Amwell parking lot and bore witness to the site of two mangled automobiles holding the wounded bodies of four classmates. Police, firemen, and EMT’s arrived on scene, treating the setup as an actual accident site.

The class of seniors stood witness to each component of this action, that was condensed into a 20 minute show. From conducting a field sobriety test and the arrest of driver Sean McGrath, to the evacuation of Justin Dominique via a medevac helicopter, there was a lot to digest in the first day of the event.

Upon the conclusion of the car accident portion, the senior class was notified that two of the occupants in the cars, John Renz and Brielle Seidel, received fatal injuries. Despite students knowing that the accident was staged beforehand, the reality of seeing friends and classmates injured in this manner was hard for many.  

“The experience was more emotional due to the fact that I have known these kids my entire life.” senior Mara Murphy said.

Day two of the assembly resonated emotionally with nearly all people in attendance. On Friday, the event was located in the auditorium and featured important guests as well as a film visual for students and faculty to view. The video was directed and edited by James Arndt with help from students.

The 15 minute short film depicts the tragic story of McGrath’s fateful decision to drink and drive. Through chilling sequences of the car crash, courtroom trial, and impact statements from victims, the viewer is immersed in the experience in a way never before done.

Following the showing of the film, students who died were given the chance to reveal their final words to their parents. This portion of the assembly was deeply felt among the audience and seemed very real. Being able to listen to students and how they felt from their perspective was eye opening to everyone.

Parents of some of the victims spoke as well, opening their hearts to the students in the audience. The whole program is very realistic and informative, the message resonating with everyone. Brielle Seidel, who portrayed one of the killed students, spoke about the influence of the event.

 “Being a part of the simulation gave me a very real perspective on the effects of drunk or distracted driving & I think it’s important for everyone to see,” Seidel said.

The interactive elements that the event consisted of set it apart from other assemblies that have been presented throughout the years. “Every 15 Minutes” proved to be moving for all participants and will undoubtedly impact the class of 2019 for the rest of their lives.

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Eric Booth, Op-ed Editor

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

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Every 15 Minutes assembly has major effect on students