A variety of SHS students participate in Every 15 Minutes Program before prom weekend

Post date: May 24, 2016 11:35:37 PM

By: Kylie Coffin, Elysia Dowd, and Megan Cichon

Posted May 24, 2016

At the beginning of this school year, Mr. Apel chose Julia Blando, Clare Meyers, Renee Cleary, Adam Horst, Kyle Lastovich, Jacob Storrs and Joelle Hackney to help create video as a “special project for Mr. Ourada.” Many of these students had taken Mr. Apel’s digital photography and video class and therefore had a background in video editing. At the time when these students were selected, none of them knew what the true purpose of the video was. Despite this, portions of filming began at the start of the school year. It was not until February that these students found out the video they were creating would ultimately become Slinger’s Every 15 Minutes crash simulation video.

Every 15 Minutes is a program aimed to awaken students to the realities of their decisions.The emphasis is on the discouragement of drunk driving. At the program’s inception, someone died from a drunk driving accident approximately every 15 minutes. This statistic is the source of the program’s name. This emotionally driven program works to show how seriously one’s decisions can impact an individual and the lives of innocent others around him.

Prior to May 12th, the day of the crash simulation, much time went into the preparation for Every 15 Minutes. Mr. Apel was the leading faculty member in charge of the video, and he received help from Mrs. Peters who contributed music to the background. E15 team members attended several meetings in which the role of each person in the program was determined and the plot of the crash was developed. Video editor Joelle Hackney said of the experience, “Being behind the scenes and watching this event grow into something incredibly impactful was awesome to be a part of.”

May 12th, the day before the all-school assembly on Friday, proved to be a trying day and night for the E15 video editors. These students were excused from all of their classes that day and worked into the early hours of the morning-- approximately 3:00 a.m.-- to complete the video for its presentation at the assembly. Food such as subs and pizza were provided for the students throughout the day. Video editor Julia Blando explained, “There were so many mixed emotions that night. There were times that everyone was really stressed and cranky, times where we couldn't stop laughing, and other times where we were all silent and entirely focused. At the end of the night, we were just so happy to be done, and we were also really proud of what we had accomplished.”

Slinger students sat down in their first hour on Thursday, May 12th, their minds already working at the speed of light, processing the end of the year race to summer. Their thoughts were interrupted by an announcement from Mr. Ourada. “Every 15 minutes, someone is killed in an accident involving alcohol, or other abusive substances. Throughout the day, every 15 minutes, one student will be pulled from class to symbolize this.” And so the day began, and true to his word, approximately every 15 minutes, a gong rang over the P.A., and the Grim Reaper (Deputy Ron Rewarts) pulled another student from class. Following their “death”, the student’s obituary was read to the class. Later in the day, students presumed as dead were spotted around the school, with gray makeup covering their face so they appeared dead (Makeup credit:?). The way they acted was truly terrifying--they didn’t show any emotion other than the emotion one might see when looking at a corpse.

Students were pulled out of class seventh hour to witness a mock accident. No one really had any idea what to expect, as many details regarding the day weren’t given. When students and faculty gathered around a lump of something hidden under a tarp, no one seemed to think anything unusual was under it. The crowd was filled with conversation...or at least until they noticed the Grim Reaper sulking towards them, his parade of our dead classmates following him. An immediate hush came over the crowd, and the entire crowd watched them walk around the tarp, so every student could get a good look at the deadness in the gaze of former friends. Eventually, the Grim Reaper and his posse took a place around the tarp. The Reaper let out a loud, somewhat terrifying scream, and the tarp was lifted.

No one expected what lay underneath that tarp. True, there was a car that was horribly damaged. But no one expected two cars, and certainly no one expected bloody limbs to be hanging out the windows of the cars. There was blood everywhere--pooled on the ground, dripping down the doors, and even on the hood of the car. Jacob Olson, who’d been thrown through the windshield, lie dead on the hood of one car. Mrs. Erdmann sat in the driver’s seat of the other car, paralyzed from the crash. From one car, a dazed Austin Klumb stumbled out of the driver’s door, looking shocked as ever. He ran his hands through his hair in concern as he surveyed the accident. From the passenger door of the other car, Rachel Hau appeared, already dialing 911.

When the first police car pulled up, only two officers were present. The dead silence maintained by the student body allowed us to hear the snapping of the officer’s rubber gloves as they prepared to assess the scene. Knowing there was too much for two officers to handle, reinforcements were called in. Eventually, there were up to three ambulances at the scene of the crash, one firetruck, and four police cars. Flight for Life was called in to fly Ali Wolf and Mrs Erdmann to the hospital. Jacob Olson was declared dead at the scene. Austin Klumb was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. All involved in the crash were taken to the hospital to have their wounds tended to.

Later that night, Ali Wolf was declared dead from wounds sustained in the accident. The other crash victims were taken to a hotel where they spent the remainder of the day, away from others who knew them. They were not permitted to be active on social media, or any other form of communication. In short, they were treated as if they were actually deceased.

Friday, May 13th was the culmination of hours and hours of preparation. The assembly began at the beginning of second hour, and after some brief introductions, the tone was set with the reading of Ali Wolf’s and Jacob Olson’s obituaries. If those didn’t make this situation real to the students, the student produced video was shown. Mr. Apel’s team worked into the wee hours of the morning getting all of the footage synthesized, and it paid off. The video started off with shots of Jacob and Ali starting normal days, but that quickly transitioned to a drinking party with friends. After beer pong and shots, they piled into Austin Klumb’s car and drove towards the high school. Once there they blew a stop sign and slammed into Mrs. Erdmann and student. The next scenes were of the emergency responders, which students had witnessed being acted out on Thursday. The film then transitioned to heart wrenching scenes of Mrs. Erdmann arriving in a helicopter at the hospital, the Wolfs standing by as their daughter was pronounced dead, the Olsons picking out a casket for their son, and the Klumbs witnessing their son sentenced to 16 years in prison.

The effect of this powerful footage was made even more impactful as the student participants remained in character to give their perspectives to the student body. Hannah Strupp spoke about how devastated she was to loose her two best friends, Austin told of his regret and sorrow at causing so much death and pain, Mrs. Erdmann commented on how rudely interrupted all of these lives were by something so senseless, and Mr. and Mrs. Olson read emotional open letters to their son that had been so unfairly taken from them.

As powerful as this dramatic reenactment was, the true story presented by Mike Knetzger really drove the message home. In 2008 he lost his 18 year old daughter when a drunk woman crashed into her at an intersection going 90 miles an hour. His rendition of her story was so powerful that the whole room was stunned to silence and moved to tears. Mr. Knetzger related how hard it was for him to return to policing after that loss, but he does it because it is making a difference in the safety of Wisconsin roads. The E15 program chose that name because of a sad statistic, but since their inception, that statistic has improved to one drunk driving related death about every 53 minutes. There is still a long way to go before the drinking and driving problem is eliminated, but thanks to events like these, we are making strides.

The students who participated were: Adam Beine, Alaina Bernarde, Adam Grudzinski, Jack Hafeman, Nolan Hansen, Rachel Hau, Austin Klumb, Cora Limberg, Shania Martinez, Alec Nelson, Jacob Olson, Casey Osterberg, Anna Pedrick, Natalie Piette, Olivia Pozorski, Kaitlyn Shatswell, Hannah Strupp, Mallory West, Ali Wolf. Mrs. Erdmann, Mrs. Harman, Mr. Ourada, Officer Sutter and the Slinger Police, Phillip’s funeral home, the Slinger Fire department, were all instrumental in the creation of this program, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donations of many community businesses.

To view the complete video, click the link: