Dublin Unites to Educate Students About the Horrors of Drunk Driving with “Every 15 Minutes”
DUBLIN, CA–Last Thursday at Dublin High School was just another day. Or was it? After first period classes commenced after the bell, visitors began showing up at random classrooms throughout the campus. Approximately every 15 minutes a “Grim Reaper” and a law enforcement officer would show up unannounced. The message to the class was clear and very blunt. It was stated that one of the students present had been killed in an alcohol related collision and was then thereby removed from the room. This went on for three consecutive periods.
In most classrooms, the mood was awkward and in some cases eerily silent. There may have been a few snickers – by from those that might have thought that this was some sort of prank. Any of those doubts were removed when a general announcement requested that the entire student body convene at the blacktop area behind the gym. The students quickly filed into a u-shaped bleacher configuration. The silence was broken with a distinct and searing sound of a collision. In the center of the assembly, multiple tarps were removed to reveal the aftermath of a two vehicle collision.
It was a confusing scene. Over the loudspeakers, those present could hear the frantic pleas for help via a 911 call. Shortly thereafter, first responders began to arrive. Police officers arrived via motorcycles and then by car. They were followed by fire engines and paramedics. While the gravity of the scene was obvious, there was no panic in the air. The responders worked at a measured and steady pace – utilizing their training to diagnose their sequential priorities. For some involved in the accident, there would be no miracles. The Alameda County Coroner’s van took those victims away. Another occupant demonstrated potential signs of paralysis and was evacuated by a helicopter to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. Others were treated and removed – only after the cars could be sawed apart to gain access to the passengers.
For over an hour, the crowd of about 2,500 sat in silence. They watched a scene that seemed so real and so gruesome. As the responders completed their tasks, they quietly collected their equipment and returned them to their vehicles. The students were then released to the lunch period. Perhaps they had the opportunity to reflect upon what they had just witnessed. All that remained in the area was broken glass and the blood smeared fragments of two cars.
Day two constituted a mock funeral in the Sports Complex. The student body was seated in the gym that featured blackened out windows to help create a proper/dignified environment. Students that functioned as the “Walking Dead” on the previous day served as pallbearers that carried a casket that was placed at the front of the assembly. A video was then screened to illustrate the events that led up to the tragedy and how it impacted everyone that was involved. Particularly painful to watch was the reactions of the parents that were notified of their child’s demise due to this unnecessary and completely avoidable circumstance.
The “Every 15 Minutes” program was pioneered in Canada in the late 1990’s. According to the country’s metrics, there was an alcohol related incident/fatality approximately four times an hour. To address this epidemic, a comprehensive program was initiated that was targeted towards high school students to help prevent this type of tragedy. The two day assembly eventually made its debut in Washington state and then ultimately in Chico, CA. The overall impact of effort appears to be working as this statistical tragedy has been “slowed” to an incident every 53 minutes in the United States. However, the number is still far too great.
Historically, this event has occurred at Dublin High School roughly every four years. In addition, all students at Valley High School are invited to participate. As one might imagine, it requires a tremendous level of leadership, funding and coordination in order for it to deliver a full impact upon the school. The planning for E15M in 2016 began many, many months ago under the guidance of DHS parents Jean Josey and Terri Dyer. With the support of numerous public safety agencies and a small army of volunteers, the committee worked diligently to secure hundreds of details. And, the end result was a powerful success. The following is a link to the video that was screened on Friday: https://youtu.be/U7HTyV5tXxQ.
The production of this powerful video would not been possible without the tireless efforts Video Production teacher Michael D’Ambrosio and a select team of his students. Months ago, this small, but mighty tribe committed themselves to this project. The completion of the video is vital as it sets the stage for the Day Two of E15M. A portion of the segment was pre-recorded – chronicling the party scene that caused the impairment to the students. However, the raw footage shot on Thursday morning needed to be refined, synthesized and edited in order for it to be included at Friday’s “funeral” service.
Michael and the students worked through the entire evening and into the early morning hours to complete their task. To gain a student perspective, OneDublin.org reached out to two members of the team – Kyle Reed and Ethan Zalunardo.
OneDublin.org: Please describe your specific responsibilities on the E15M project. Personally, what was the most rewarding part of having an extended level of involvement?
Kyle Reed: “I had responsibilities in every aspect of the E15M project, from shaping the story arc of the film to the music to the filming and editing. I edited a majority of the film and, personally found the most rewarding part to just be the fun of filming and working in a crew and having the ultimate say on the project in the end.”
OneDublin.org: While the majority of your classmates observed the assembly from the bleachers, you were active participants throughout. Describe how you mentally prepared for the two-day event.
Ethan Zalunardo: “I wouldn’t say I really mentally prepared, because my main thought was in the film and making sure I was doing the right thing and not getting run over by a fireman. The students were only a before and after thought.”
OneDublin.org: The concept of impaired/distracted driving is clearly a significant issue. By taking a deeper role in this experience, explain how you hope that this involvement will positively impact your classmates.
Reed: “While most people see the settings and characters from the film as just that, as a videographer, I experienced every location and met every person firsthand. They felt much more real and because of that. I feel that the message of the film resonated even deeper inside me. I can only hope that everyone feels as deeply impacted as I have been throughout this experience and realize that the film is so much more than a film – it’s a representation of real life.”
OneDublin.org: Try to describe how Mr. D’Ambrosio has influenced you – both as a person and as a student.
Zalunardo: “Mr. D’Ambrosio has influenced me by giving me opportunities I could never have asked for and providing me with an unbiased opinion. I couldn’t ask for a better teacher.”
OneDublin.org: As a senior, please articulate what it has meant to be an important part of a fledgling Video Production program at DHS.
Reed: “I cannot even begin to explain my gratitude that I was able to go through high school just as the video production program was developing at Dublin High. It has helped me to mature as a leader through my directing roles. And, the enormous amount of experience I’ve gained from planning the Film Festival in 2015 and Every Fifteen Minutes this year I know will benefit me greatly as I go into college.”
To ensure proper recognition, we wanted to identify all seven Video Production students that ensured a successful outcome: Andrew Turner, Sophie Butler, Evan Hancher and Kyle Reed (Sr.), Madeline Nobida and Claire Kantz (Jr.) and Ethan Zalunardo (So.).
OneDublin.org would like to express its gratitude to the scores of community support organizations and volunteers that made this a truly memorable event. The mock funeral assembly also featured a moving testimonial from a parent speaker from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). It was indeed a week to remember.