LYNWOOD – Lynwood High School students were presented with a harsh lesson in drunk driving this week, when three of their peers were “killed” during a mock car collision on a stretch of Imperial Highway, just days ahead of their high school prom. In conjunction with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Lynwood, the Lynwood Unified School District on Tuesday hosted the “Every 15 Minutes” Program, a two-day event at LHS meant to showcase the very real consequences of driving while under the influence.
“This is a powerful program that has effectively reached our students since it first began last year,” said LUSD Board of Education President Briseida Gonzalez. “The ‘Every 15 Minutes Program’ has been essential in helping LUSD students see first-hand that their actions have consequences that can immensely impact their friends and loved ones, and that is a strong message that we want our kids to know before they get behind the wheel.”
The program began with a Grim Reaper removing one student from class throughout the morning. A uniformed campus safety officer read the obituary of each student, who became one of the “living dead,” to the others in the classroom.
The crash, which took place mid-morning, triggered an emergency response by law enforcement agencies, firefighters and paramedics, who arrived to a scene that included students being trapped inside badly-smashed vehicles. Two students were pronounced dead at the scene, while another died after being transported via ambulance to St. Francis Medical Center.
The program continued as the student-driver who caused the collision was handcuffed, taken to a courtroom and sentenced to prison.
While all of the events are staged, the gruesome crash scene and the simulated student deaths are real and emotionally gripping for everyone involved.
“It teaches students before going to prom to think before they act,” said senior Kiara Miller, who played the drunk driver during the mock event. “It’s a good life lesson for people out there to see and experience.”
The “living dead” participate in an overnight retreat, where they write goodbye letters to their parents. Once the students become members of the living dead, there is no contact with family or friends.
In an assembly that took place Wednesday, all LHS students participated in an “Every 15 Minutes Memorial Service,” where they watched a video that captures the aftermath of the drunk-driving collision they saw the previous day.
In addition, a mock memorial service, which included a casket placed at the center of the gym, featured parents reading eulogies they have written about their son or daughter. A representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) also discussed the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking.
The “living dead” students then met with their parents and friends for an emotional reunion.
Published: April 24, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 02