Every Fifteen Minutes

Awesta Mohammadi, Features Editor

On March 16 a group of West High seniors participated in the Every Fifteen Minutes program. These seniors were chosen to take part in this experience. Every Fifteen Minutes is a program that allows students to experience what it is like to be involved in an accident related to drinking and driving and the consequences it has on everyone around them. The students prepared to be a part of this program for a while and there were various guest speakers who spoke of their own experiences with drunk drivers. They were also educated by the police and highway patrol of the dangers and consequences of drunk driving.

During first period, a Grim Reaper came to the classrooms of all the students who died and left a black rose on their desks. The police officer followed and read their obituaries that the students had to write. All seniors were released from their second period class and were to report to the bus loop. There was a simulated car accident and participating seniors acting out the scenario, where the students involved in the accident decided to call 911 and ask for help. The Fire Department and Paramedics arrived shortly after the call and the firefighters had to rescue two students stuck in each car by using the “Jaws of Life.” One students was declared dead and the morgue was called to take the body away. As this scene was playing out, the Grim Reaper and its victims were standing silently on the side. These victims were dressed in black and had makeup done by West High’s Make Up Club to have them appear dead. There was a student for every fifteen minutes of the day, representing a death after each interval. The police arrived to the scene and interrogated the students. The drunk driver was a female of the age of 18 and was singled out and asked to perform small tasks such as walking straight in a line or counting on her fingers to prove that she was not under the influence. She then failed a breath test that determined she was under the influence. She was arrested and taken away to prison. The firefighters and the paramedics left the scene and the students all lined up and walked as the Grim Reaper led them away. This concluded the assembly and students were allowed to go back to their class.

The following day was the day of the assembly in the main gym. Seniors were released from their classrooms during second period and were to report to the gym. First, the students were shown the scene of how the accident had occurred. Then the “dead” students and their parents had prepared speeches to express their feelings regarding the “deaths.” Students wrote letters about what they wish they had done and expressed their love for their parents. Parents wrote letters about what they were going to miss and expressed their love for their child. One of these parents was Rachel Estell, mother of Ephraim Estell. When asked about her experience with the program, she said, “It was a very emotional experience. I was skeptical of letting Ephraim participate, but I saw this as a great opportunity for him to have an impact on his peers.”

After the letters were all read, a guest speaker had a story to share. The guest speaker spoke of how she was herself a drunk driver and was now serving her time for her crime. It was a learning experience for all seniors. When asked what she had experienced throughout the programs, senior Lexie Wiltz said, “Overall this experience has truly opened my eyes, and I’m glad I got to experience all of it firsthand. I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned with all my peers.”