The final days before Good Friday held a somber mood despite the impending April vacation as ORRHS participated in the “Every Fifteen Minutes” program.
Named due to the extreme 1990s statistic of someone losing their life every 15 minutes due to driving under the influence of alcohol, the yearly program spreads awareness of the dangers and consequences of such actions.
One way this was achieved was through guest speaker Jim Butcher, who gave anecdotal evidence to the senior and junior classes on the overall effect of drunk driving. The story hit home with the students, who were able to later retell what they had heard to the younger grades.
“The speaker was a father whose daughter, Courtney, died about ten years ago in a drunk driving accident,” junior Elise Parker recounted. “One of her friends was drunk and speeding while driving her and three others home, and he missed a turn and crashed. Only one of them survived.”
Junior Lindsey Merolla recalled, “He told us to consider what we’re doing before getting in the car, whether it’s drinking or texting, because there are people that care about us and our actions could kill someone innocent.”
The students who attended the assembly were visibly moved afterwards, some even tearing up as they walked back to classes.
“His story was really sad,” said senior Emily Ziino. “He talked about how his daughter was no longer ‘daddy’s girl’ anymore because she died … I cried a little.”
This wasn’t the extent of the “Every Fifteen Minutes” program, however. Members of the senior class had spent the previous day enacting the naming statistic as a student designated as the “Grim Reaper” wandered the hallways. About every 15 minutes throughout the school day, the Grim Reaper would collect a senior who ‘died’ as a result of an alcohol-induced accident; the ‘dead’ student would then dress in a black robe and spend the rest of the day in silence.
Between the ‘walking dead’ and crime scene body outlines scattered through the hallways, the severity of the results of drinking and driving began to sink in for all present at the school. Many conversations reflected on the activities that had been used to spread awareness of the dangers of drunk driving.
“It made many of us contemplate the harsh consequences of drinking and reckless driving, and that others may be hurt, too, because of our actions,” junior Stephanie Dondyk said.
By Jo Caynon