East Ridge students experience SADD realityIt was a somber day at East Ridge High School last week.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
It was a somber day at East Ridge High School last week.
On Thursday, Feb. 7, students portraying drunken-driving fatalities, roamed the halls.
East Ridge hosted its third-annual Grim Reaper Day, an event organized by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), where a “Grim Reaper” entered various classrooms throughout the day and “killed” students while Woodbury police officers reported students had been involved in fatal drunk driving accidents.
The students’ obituaries also were read.
Once students were “killed” they then roamed the halls among other students, however they were unable to speak since they were “dead.”
The students also wore makeup depicting their fatal injuries.
At the end of the day, the “dead students” lined the school exits.
Throughout the day a total of 32 students were “killed.”
“We thought it would be really impactful to students to see how many lives are affected,” said East Ridge Spanish teacher, and SADD adviser, Julie Rekstad. “Maybe not being able to talk to their friends will impact them to make better decisions.”
Louder than words
East Ridge’s Grim Reaper Day is inspired by a similar program through the “Every 15 Minutes” organization.
The program takes the simulation even further however by hosting a simulated traffic collision, transporting the “dead” students to a hotel for the night in order to simulate the separation from friends and family. Those students are also taken through an audio-visualization of their own death.
“It gives them a visual to the effects of drunk driving,” said Woodbury police officer Scott Melander. “Visuals leave more of a lasting memory.”
East Ridge senior Liz Maatta, who is co-president of SADD, said the group decided to take the Grim Reaper Day event one step further this year by applying the makeup to students.
In previous years, students only wore shirts that read “I was killed by a drunk driver.”
“We think students will probably be a little freaked out, but that’s kind of what we want,” she said.
It was actually the Woodbury Police Department’s idea to incorporate the makeup, since the police department frequently uses makeup for training exercises and mock crashes.
“It added more visual stimulus to the student body to see that this isn’t only a T-shirt – they actually do look like they’re dead,” Melander said.
Living through ‘death’
East Ridge juniors Stephanie Schmitz and Maggie Beasley, who both portrayed the Grim Reaper last week, said having to “kill” their classmates is a little “awkward.”
East Ridge junior Kyle Boyer, who portrayed a victim, said he wanted to participate in order to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.
“It seemed like a cool thing to be involved with,” he said. “It really drives home the effects – it definitely could happen to anyone.”
East Ridge intends to continue hosting the event every year.
“I think it’s an important message to share with anyone – not just kids,” Beasley said.
Schmitz and Beasley said they wanted to be involved with Grim Reaper Day because of the impact it can have on students, especially after East Ridge student Braedon Hyland died in a car crash in October of 2011.
“It’s a great way to show the student body that it can happen and it might happen to you so drive safe,” Schmitz said.
Beasley said Hyland’s death had a profound impact on last year’s “Grim Reaper Day.”
“I think that really hit people hard,” she said. “When we went around and did this, it made a really huge impact on them.”