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Opinion: Every 15 Minutes needs some changes to be as impactful as possible

Opinion+writer+Emma+Kolesnik+feels+that+the+real+stories+from+those+who+have+been+affected+by+distracted+driving+were+effective%2C+while+the+simulation+was+not.+Credit%3A+Jenny+Chang%2FThe+Foothill+Dragon+Press
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Opinion: Every 15 Minutes needs some changes to be as impactful as possible

Opinion writer Emma Kolesnik feels that the real stories from those who have been affected by distracted driving were effective, while the simulation was not. Credit: Jenny Chang/The Foothill Dragon Press

Opinion writer Emma Kolesnik feels that the real stories from those who have been affected by distracted driving were effective, while the simulation was not. Credit: Jenny Chang/The Foothill Dragon Press

Opinion writer Emma Kolesnik feels that the real stories from those who have been affected by distracted driving were effective, while the simulation was not. Credit: Jenny Chang/The Foothill Dragon Press

Opinion writer Emma Kolesnik feels that the real stories from those who have been affected by distracted driving were effective, while the simulation was not. Credit: Jenny Chang/The Foothill Dragon Press

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I have never known anyone who has died or been injured in a distracted driving accident. However, I do sympathize with the horrifying tragedies that can come out of those accidents. I know that I’m smart enough to not drive distracted. It’s not always an easy task, but it’s one I’m committed to.

Opinion writer Emma Kolesnik feels that the real stories from those who have been affected by distracted driving were effective, while the simulation was not. Credit: Jenny Chang/The Foothill Dragon Press

Opinion writer Emma Kolesnik feels that the real stories from those who have been affected by distracted driving were effective, while the simulation was not. Credit: Jenny Chang/The Foothill Dragon Press

I have never known anyone who has died or been injured in a distracted driving accident. However, I do sympathize with the horrifying tragedies that can come out of those accidents. I know that I’m smart enough to not drive distracted. It’s not always an easy task, but it’s one I’m committed to.

I was skeptical of Every 15 Minutes. Before it happened, I was doubtful that it would have any impact on me, particularly because I already knew that I wouldn’t do what they were warning against.

After the first day, my skepticism was proved valid. I felt no emotion during the reenactment.  

I couldn’t connect with the events because I was able to separate what was happening from reality, which I think was true for a large number of people. People were making fun of the event and I could understand why. The people dressed up as the “living dead” in the background didn’t seem very realistic or ultimately serve any real purpose.

I know a lot of work went into planning Every 15 Minutes, but the first day wasn’t impactful. I didn’t totally understand what was going on (partly because I couldn’t see), and the only thing I felt was the sun beating down on me.

Feel differently? Read CJ Haberbush’s Opinion article, “Every 15 Minutes sobers students to realities of drunk driving.”

 

The second day I expected much of the same result, and at first that was true. The parents’ eulogies were hard to listen to, but I could see their very much alive children in the front row. It obviously wasn’t real.

Then Tony Pedeferri came onto the stage. A person driving under the influence had hit him, and from that day on he was a paraplegic. His story was the one that got to me. Even though I never would have driven distracted, he convinced me to make sure others don’t either. He showed me the impact someone’s mistake could have. He has such courage, and I can no longer think of these accidents in the abstract.

Initially I planned on writing how Every 15 Minutes was a waste of energy and funds, but Tony Pedeferri changed my mind. I still do think that there should be significant improvements made for when this event happens again. I think more time should be spent on the real life situations and stories, and less on the make-believe. This is such an important topic that it deserves more than the laughs the acting received.

Even though the second day was impactful, I’m still not convinced that Every 15 Minutes was worthwhile. I think the people who are stupid enough to drive under the influence will still do so.

For some, this day had a large emotional toll. Those who knew someone who had died in a related accident were put through that tragedy again. I cannot speak for those people, but I imagine those two days were very difficult. Unfortunately, I think the acting and story made the days not about remembrance and respect but more like a bad movie.

At the very end, when remembrance and respect were the goals, that is when people felt the impact. That is when it started touching hearts. Remembering people, such as Mr. Prewitt, that so many in the community have lost is what made the event have meaning and impact. It was not the easily forgotten storyline.

I don’t think Every 15 Minutes was impactful in its whole. The experience could have been more meaningful. I have the utmost respect for everyone who spent time working on the project. Teachers Melanie “Captain” Lindsey and Darcy Duffy, the Associated Student Body (ASB), the police officers, the hospital staff/Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), and those who came to support lost ones all have a wonderful and heartfelt goal. They are trying to make a difference and to me, that is beautiful. The purpose of this article is not to critique, but to help analyze what had the greatest effect on students.

I think we need to continue to have awareness and education on distracted driving, and I think the most effective way to do that is to hear about real stories, and not watch acted out simulations that are hard to connect to. I hope in future years this event is something that touches students every minute it is happening.

What do you think?
9 Comments

9 Responses to “Opinion: Every 15 Minutes needs some changes to be as impactful as possible”

  1. G. Guzman on November 30th, 2015 5:42 pm

    Totally disrespectful to students who put HOURS of work into this project. You “critique” but you have no idea how much effort the teachers and students put into this. Maybe instead of just saying it won’t work, give some PRACTICAL advice. Or get off your butt and actually help plan it.

     
  2. Foothill Alumni on November 30th, 2015 5:58 pm

    I really couldn’t agree more. I find the E15M program to be incredibly important, but it never got its point across as much as it wanted to. Back when I was a sophomore in 2013, I nor any of my friends could really take it seriously considering we knew it wasn’t real. Of course, this wasn’t the popular opinion so we kept our mouths shut about it, so I’m glad someone is finally speaking out about it. Although there was a lot of hard work put into this, so much so that people didn’t have time to work on it last year, real stories of what can happen when you drive while distracted leave a much bigger influence than simulations. Props to Emma Kolesnik.

     
  3. Camille Gonzalez 2012 Alumni on November 30th, 2015 8:44 pm

    As an EMT currently, I think the purpose of Every 15 minutes is incredibly important. I see these exact accidents all the time, especially because I work on night shifts. The “simulation” that you critique is my reality, and I think that maybe the students of FTHS are too immature nowadays to respect the reality of these accidents. Honestly, if students put in the effort to understand how heartbreaking it is for us to see a young child paralyzed or dead due to these accidents, it would make a difference. The fact that it makes no impact on you is because you didn’t let it make an impact.

     
  4. MC on November 30th, 2015 11:00 pm

    It seemed like you had your mind made up before you experienced this event, and had already expected it not to be effective. Already having an opinion about something before you experience it limits your ability to truly be present for what is going on. I would say you and many others have every right to be skeptical at what was presented. But be truthful in identifying your skepticism as fear. Good for you for committing to never being a distracted driver. I hope and pray that someone not as “smart” as you is not on the same highway as you. Or perhaps they took the pledge that day to make better choices. If one person signed the pledge and sticks to it that is worth it in my opinion.

     
  5. May Howard on December 1st, 2015 10:32 pm

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion. But it appears your opinion was not bout the event itself, as you indicate that you had already intended to write an article about the waste of energy and time- prior to the event itself. I believe that is where you lost me. Share your opinion all you like. But if you are sharing your judgementalism then call it what it is. It is not an actual opinion.

     
  6. E15M Alumnus on December 2nd, 2015 6:43 pm

    I participated as one of the “living dead” in 2011, and I will say that while I thought the program had a substantial impact on me, I can definitely see how those not involved in the “behind the scenes” aspects of the program might leave it relatively cold. I think you make a really strong point about the disconnect that takes place for students who immediately see what the entire first day is: a simulation, and one that has little impact on students who don’t know what it’s like to lose a loved one to drunk driving.

    I don’t know if this is still the case, but when I did it, all the program participants actually did a bunch of workshops the night between days 1 and 2, where we watched a tv special on texting while driving, spoke with the father of a girl who was killed by a drunk driver, and exchanged letters with our parents describing how we would feel if we were killed because of a DUI. It was a really emotional experience for me, and I wish that they could have expanded those workshops to the rest of the student body, rather than having them watch us wheel out a couple of coffins that everyone knows are empty.

    tl;dr: The connection between simulation and reality can definitely be made stronger in this program, and I think they already have the necessary tools to do so.

     
  7. Barbara Meyer on December 3rd, 2015 11:12 am

    I support your right to your opinion, but I have to say that your opinion troubles me. You state that it didn’t have much impact on you because it was all fake and you knew the people weren’t really dead. I can’t think of any other way to demonstrate what might happen in these situations without simulations. Mr. Pedeferri’s story was powerful indeed, and I would never do anything to take away from that. My heart broke for him. But I spoke too, as a mother of one of the deceased. Those tears I shed were real. No, my son wasn’t actually dead, but I got that upset just by IMAGINING what it would be like if he was actually killed by a drunk or distracted driver. The point of my speech and that of the other mother was to demonstrate what your parents would likely go through if you, their daughter, was killed in a similar manner.

    I commend you for making the commitment that you will never drive while under the influence. But please don’t set such a high standard for life lessons by allowing yourself to be impacted only by things that are “real”.

     
  8. Emily Marostica on December 5th, 2015 11:55 am

    As someone on the planning committee I really wish you would’ve gone into this experience with more of an open mind. I’m not sure if it was because you had no close friends as a part of the simulation or as a living dead, but I can’t see how it couldn’t have impacted you even a little on day one. Even just the announcements got me thinking about every little decision I’ve made, and how they could have impacted someone else’s life. I’m sorry you weren’t able to grasp this event to its fullest, I respect your opinion and I would really like to hear from you and get some input on how it can be changed for further years. Obviously we want to make this event as impactful to everyone as we possibly can, but I also know it’s impossible to reach everyone. You said everyone you’ve talked to wasn’t impacted by the events, but everyone I talked to was, I feel as if e15m did its job on those 2 days. Although you didn’t see the impact, I believe a lot of others did, but after reading your article I’d really love to talk so I can understand where you’re coming from and how you got to your conclusion. I’m happy at least Officer Pedefferi was able to reach you on day 2, but I also wish more of our efforts were able to. So if you’re willing, please let me know what we can do to help make this event more powerful to students in later years.

     
  9. Cat on December 10th, 2015 6:23 pm

    My comments were deleted from this post. I thought the Foothill Dragon Press was all about free speech?

    Anyway, to reiterate: this author made up her mind before even seeing the event, which is terrible journalism. Very disappointing.

    Also, while YOU may not have found value, if at least ONE student does – that’s all that matters! Your holier than though attitude is very annoying to read. I understand you’re perfect and won’t text and drive, but MANY other teens do this in a daily basis.

    Perhaps consider joining the planning committee if you’d really like to help? Or is this just a lot of complaining with no actual action?

    By the way, I was there and I saw VERY FEW student laughing at the simulation. And those kids were the same ones laughing when the paralyzed officer was on stage. Some kids laugh in sad situations — making light of the situation is a fairly normal response. But you probably knew that already, right?

     

Comments on articles are screened and those determined by editors to be crude, overly mean-spirited or that serve primarily as personal attacks will not be approved. The Editorial Review Board, made up of 11 student editors and a faculty adviser, make decisions on content.

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Opinion: Every 15 Minutes needs some changes to be as impactful as possible