Students to learn life lessons about drinking, texting while driving

Students to learn life lessons about drinking, texting while driving

The Grim Reaper will visit a Thomas Stone High School and North Point High School classroom every 15 minutes on Thursday, leaving behind a “living dead” student who silently reminds classmates of the consequences of drinking or texting while driving.

Students on the Student Government Safe Driving Task Force at Thomas Stone and North Point high schools are participating in the National Every 15 Minutes program on May 1 and May 2, which includes a mock automobile accident, the removal by the Grim Reaper of preselected students from classrooms and a post-school trial of the “drunk” drivers who caused the accidents. Sponsored and coordinated by the Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD), Every 15 Minutes is a national two-day program that encourages students to think about personal safety when driving, especially when alcohol or texting are involved.

Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among teen-age youth, said Guy Yesse, event coordinator and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) captain with the WVFD. The program goal, which is geared toward juniors and seniors, is to educate teens through realistic experiences that simulate the magnitude of tragedies caused by drunk driving and texting while driving, Yesse said.

“Living dead” students will be taken from class on Thursday, made up to look like corpses, and returned to class as silent reminders that Every 15 Minutes someone is killed or seriously injured in an alcohol-related or distracted driving incident. Students must remain in character for the remainder of the school day and they may not speak or interact with other students. A School Resource Officer will enter the student’s classroom and read an obituary prepared by the student’s parents. Simultaneously, uniformed officers will make mock death notifications to the parents of these children at their home, place of employment or business.

A simulated traffic accident will occur Thursday, May 1 in the front of Thomas Stone at 9:10 a.m. and in front of North Point at 12:20 p.m. Rescue workers will treat “injured” students who will experience the sensation of being involved in a tragic, alcohol-related driving collision. Members of the WVFD will handle fatalities on the scene while firefighters and paramedics remove the injured students with jaws-of-life tools. Student participants will continue their experience after school at the Charles County Courthouse for a mock trial of the “drunk drivers” who caused the morning accidents.

At the end of the day, students who participated in the staged accident and the “living dead” will be taken to Camp Merrick in Nanjemoy for an overnight retreat. The retreat will simulate the separation from friends and family. A support staff of counselors, staff from Thomas Stone and North Point and members of the WVFD will facilitate the retreat.

Students will work on presentations to be given at Thomas Stone and North Point on Friday. The focus of the assemblies is to show how consuming alcohol or texting while driving can affect many more people than just the one who drinks or texts.

The event also includes the participation by the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, other county fire and rescue departments, staff at Thomas Stone and North Point high schools, Charles County Public Schools, College of Southern Maryland, community officials, Charles County Courthouse officials and a wide cross section of the Charles County community at-large.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,500 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 caring community schools that offer a technological advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela Murphy, Section 504 Coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, central office building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, Maryland 20646. 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

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