Six students will not be in class on Friday at Notre Dame High School.
On Thursday they were victims of a simulated auto accident in which two were killed, three were injured, and one was taken into police custody.
Click on video above for a synopsis of the simulation.
The six seniors were participants in the bi-annual, "Sober Graduation" exercise in which a horrific traffic accident is staged following a night of drinking and driving. Two cars with a total of six occupants--all Notre Dame High School students--were "totaled" on the campus and the injured lay bleeding and unconscious in the school driveway.
Sober Graduation is a two-day joint project between the Belmont Police Department, Belmont Fire Department, American Medical Response and the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office. A Stanford Hospital Life Flight also took part in the exercise, landing on the school’s softball field to transport an injured student.
The program is designed to raise the awareness of teens to the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other controlled substances.
Principal Rita Gleason was humbled by the reaction of the student body that watched the scenario from behind yellow police tape.
“This certainly gives a heightened awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving,” said Gleason.
“We do this bi-annually and we are very grateful to Belmont Safe Schools, San Mateo County Emergency Services, and the Belmont police and fire departments.
“My experience this afternoon was that the audience was somber, thoughtful and quiet. They do try to take care of each other and I believe they learned a lot by participating in this today,” the principal added.
The two day Sober Graduation program will continue on Friday with an assembly and a visit from the six student “victims,” explained Assistant Principal Carolyn Hutchins, who coordinated the event.
The student participants said they expected the experience to be scary, but they were willing to take part in the simulated crash to demonstrate the dangers of drinking and driving.
Senior Sophie Connelly was to be one of the injured passengers.
“I’m going to be injured in the crash and won’t be able to feel my legs,” said Sophie while having fake blood applied to her legs minutes before the exercise.
“I want to be able to show my friends what can happen, and to give them perspective to see what it would be like if one of us was in this situation. It seems very realistic and scary,” she added.
The simulation was filmed and the video will be shown to NDHS students, and later will be posted on the Belmont Public Safety YouTube channel.
“In most cases, important life lessons are learned through experience. However, when the audience is teens and the topic is drinking and driving, experience is not the teacher of choice,” said Belmont Police Chief Dan DeSmidt.
“We hope that this powerful program will challenge the students to think about drinking, using drugs, personal safety, and the responsibility of making mature decisions when lives are involved,” Chief DeSmidt added.
More news on Belmont Patch:
- Belmont Police to Conduct 'Sober Graduation' at Notre Dame High
- Belmont Police Launch SAFE Program for Schools
- Local Catholic Community Weighs in On New Pope
- Op-Ed: 'I Will Not Be Wearing Black On Friday'
- Op-Ed: Kudos to Council for San Juan Canyon Vote