Behind the scenes of “Every 15 Minutes”

A CAR AND student mangled after a mock crash by a drunk driver. (ASB Photography)

Sophie Rapeepat | Head Editor & Blake McAlpin | Editor of Student Life

March 12, 2024

On March 6, 2024, six students at SCHS were involved in an alcohol-related car crash. Of the innocents: Two died on impact, one died in hospital from excessive injury, one was paralyzed from the waist down, and one survived only to be traumatized for life. The drunk driver walked away without a scratch.

This simulation, as organized by the Every 15 Minutes program, revealed the all-too-real consequences of driving under the influence. Police, EMTs, firefighters, and other first responders reenacted the gruesome crash in the SCHS parking lot in front of all the junior/senior classes. It was filmed and shown again in an assembly the next day to spread awareness of the fact that every fifteen minutes, someone in the country is killed by an alcohol-related crash. Students were taken out of class throughout the day to represent the lives lost, eulogies were presented, and guest speakers were invited to provide personal experiences of the issue.

CROWD GATHERING to watch mock crash. (ASB Photographers)

My name is Sophie and I played the role of the drunk driver. It was just a performance, but seeing how easily a small mistake could ruin many lives made the experience feel much more realistic. A lot of effort was put into the making, and it was inspiring to see the whole town come together to ensure our work made the biggest impact possible.

Yair, Anna, Kate, and I filmed the party and driving scenes outside of school, and it was honestly so fun that it was easy to forget the context in which we were filming. It felt so normal since I’d been friends with these people for years, so seeing those same friends splayed on the asphalt and covered in blood the very next day was a complete shock. The most important thing I hope that people learned is that driving under the influence impacts more than just the people directly involved. We watched as first responders tried desperately to do their jobs, family and friends mourned their loved ones and the drunk driver went to jail with enough self-hatred to last lifetimes.

My name is Blake and I played the role of an ejected passenger who was dead upon the arrival of paramedics. In the vehicle, Sara Sims and I were filmed getting Bagel Shack and innocently driving to school. The goal of having a two-car collision is to show the effects drinking and driving can have on others as well as yourself. One of the actresses, senior Anna Jones, blew away the crowd with her realistic performance. Jones said, “I think Every 15 Minutes was an extremely important campaign because it forced students to collect with such a detrimental issue on a personal level. Because of my participation, I feel I am better equipped to encourage my peers to make safe decisions. Overall, the experience was more emotional than I had expected, and I think the entire school felt the weight and impact of the losses.” She then went on to say, “I initially signed up to participate to be an advocate for my peers, but the personal impact was far more powerful than I expected. I know that I will remember Every 15 minutes for the rest of my life, and I hope the rest of my peers will as well.”

SENIOR, Kate Roeber being wheeled away on a stretcher. (ASB Photography)

The goal of the mock collision is to leave students feeling moved and with a bit of a shock that will stick with them. It’s bloody and many of those involved in the production have diverse connections, interests, and interactions that hopefully speak to each individual watching.
Following the mock collision, the student actors and all 15-minute participants cleaned themselves up and headed to the Volare Hotel in downtown San Clemente. The purpose of having participants stay in a hotel is to draw out their death to the fullest extent. With roughly thirty students staying at the hotel, the hope was that hundreds of friends, parents, and community members would notice their absence and feel the loss.

At the hotel, we took part in some light-hearted games and eventually did a few activities related to drunk driving and its impact. We heard from two very impactful speakers, tried sobriety tests with drunk goggles, and then reflected on the day as a group. Following all of this, we each wrote a meaningful letter to someone in our lives about how they have impacted us and what we wish we could say to them if we were alive.

The next morning, every junior and senior gathered in the gym to wrap up the assembly and see the final product of the video. Every “dead” student was there and sat in the center of the gym. During this assembly, we heard an amazing eulogy for Kate Roeber from Amber Smith and Anna Jones. Following this we heard from a very inspirational speaker as he shared how drunk driving affected his life. The room was dead silent as he told his remarkable story about how one stupid choice from somebody else led to his life being altered forever. Senior Annie Burress stated, “His speech really spoke to me. His story is just so crazy and I can’t imagine ever living with myself if I did that to someone.” She went on to say, “It is just so easy to find a ride or plan. I’ve always been against drunk driving but after this presentation, I want to take more of a stance to prevent it too.” Following his speech, Principal Chris Carter gave closing remarks and the simulation was officially over.

We hope that our reenactment forces you to think about what it means to drive under the influence. Every crash is one hundred percent preventable, and so many lives could be saved by your everyday decisions. If you’re drinking or using drugs, please make the right choice and never get behind the wheel.


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