COLTON - The hushed silence of a teenage student body nearing 100 symbolized the impact of a mock DUI/DWI drill his past week on the Colton-Pierrepont Central School campus.
With the excitement of prom and graduation parties on the horizon comes the pressing issue of impaired driving and the potentially devastating affect it can have on a community.
Seven CPCS students, as well as the St. Lawrence County Sheriffs Department, Colton Fire Department and Colton Rescue Squad took part in the simulation earlier this week that was coordinated by the countys STOP-DWI program.
The Madrid-Waddington Central School District took part in a similar drill on Monday through the Special Traffic Option Program for Driving While Intoxicated (STOP-DWI) group.
We did this with Colton-Pierrepont about four years ago. None of these children have ever experienced this though, PTSA President Shelby Connelly said.
Its prom and graduation season so this is the perfect time for students to understand the importance of drinking and driving, as well as underage drinking. Were also working with the St. Lawrence County Coalition on this effort, she said,
Ms. Connelly added that Renee Seymour and Michelle James were integral in putting together the event.
Felicia Neahr works with the Cultivating Healthy Communities Coalition and said that her group has a grant called the Prevention First NY Grant. The funding helps six different communities in the county.
Were focusing on preventing underage drinking and Colton is one of those communities, Ms. Neahr said.
Also involved in the activity were a few high school students participating in the Reserve Active Member (RAM) program, a group that is training to become firefighters.
(Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash) let them come out of school to be a part of this. So theyre actually in here working with the fire crew, Ms. Connelly said. I think its important because theyre students and theyre learning from this end that they have to come to the scene to see their friends.
The RAM students were Courtney Marsh, DKota Wright and John Henry Angleberger. The group of students who portrayed victims of the two car accident included Noah Whalen, Scott Boyce, Madison Cook, Cathryn Miller, Wyatt Cole, Andrea Aldous and Ashley Klemco. The group included one mock fatality, numerous injured students and one DUI arrest.
At the conclusion of the drill, Mr. Kardash said that he certainly noticed the effect it had on the students.
Its good to do every three or four years as these images that are burned into kids minds wear off a little bit. Its just a little reinforcement, he said. We like to do it before graduation because graduation parties are a high risk danger. For some reason theres a lot of drinking at those so this is the image we would like in their minds before they make the decision to get behind the wheel.
Mr. Boyce and Ms. Miller said that the intensity of the demonstration was real, and they hope the drill will prevent students from making a potentially fatal decision in the future.
At first I thought it was just going to be calm because it wasnt real. But once it actually started happening and you realize that its your friends in the other car and it could be real, it was really nerve-wrecking. I got really nervous, Ms. Miller said. We volunteered for this because we remember that we saw (a drill) a few years ago, and it was really intense. We thought it would be a good experience.
It really brought out the true emotions that you probably feel in a real accident. It makes you realize how awful it would be if it were real, Mr. Boyce added.