Red Ribbon Week is quite similar in most schools – adults urging students to make constructive rather than destructive decisions. But the way schools go about preaching this message differs in each district and even between schools. At Immaculata Academy, the Students Against Destructive Decisions club organizes the events for the entire week, touching on topics such as healthy eating, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, taking a stance against bullying and even safe driving.
One highlight is a mock accident, which took place Oct. 23. Six members of SADD – Monica Schubbe, Grace Coughlin, Anne and Lizzie Pivarunas, Jenna Hornberger and myself – were selected to be the victims of the “accident.”
Many local police officers, volunteer firefighters and even rescue vehicles were present to ensure that the event looked as real as possible. The six volunteers were given role assignments: minor injuries, critical conditions or dead on arrivals. Then makeup was applied to each of us to give the appearance of our “injuries.” We were to act as if we were in tremendous pain and very anxious, just as one might be after a violent collision.
As we climbed into the cars, one simply sitting upright and the other flipped onto its right side, feelings of anxiety started to approach. Just moments before stepping into the vehicles, most of us were still feeling that the experience was going to be, for lack of a better word, fun. We actually debated over who would get to go into the flipped car because we all wanted to be inside.
Eventually we settled on Grace, Anne, Monica and myself going into the flipped car and Jenna and Lizzie in the upright one. I made my way into the passenger seat and positioned myself, and Grace, a DOA, was on top of me. Since she was the driver, we decided it would be plausible for her to have been thrown into the passenger seat during the crash.
As our classmates and teachers filed outside, the cars, which had been filled with chatter, fell silent. I heard the officers explain what would happen, and then they began their work. Having seen the mock accident at Immaculata before, I was surprised at the effect it had on me. I’m not frightened of much and I was rather excited. Soon I heard the jaws of life being used on the car I was in. The loud screeching was terrifying. I never thought that the experience would nearly bring me to tears, but as I saw my friend and classmate lying on top of me, pretending to be lifeless from the implied crash, I couldn’t help but believe it could really happen.
Feelings of fear swept over me as I heard officers yelling to each other and the sound of breaking glass and crushing metal invaded my ears. The tarp the rescuers put on top of us was being bombarded with broken glass and soon they began taking girls out of the cars and “treating” them. Jenna, a drunk driver, was required to do a sobriety test. Lizzie suffered a broken arm but was labeled as a minor injury. Anne, critically injured, was being treated for head trauma. Monica and Grace were both DOAs. Then came my turn.
They took me out on a board and carried me past my classmates, putting me into an ambulance with Anne and Lizzie. Having all those eyes on me, some looking quite sad, is memorable.
The mock accident was an opportunity for everyone to think about making the right decisions. Even if it only deeply affected a few students, I know that at least six girls have sworn to refrain from distracted driving of any kind. I wouldn’t want that experience to be reality for me or anyone I know.
Hannah Gordon is a senior at Immaculata Academy.