‘SADD’ is Anything But

Madeline Sanstrum, Staff Writer

Although almost a month ago, SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving/Dangerous Decisions) week and Every 15 Minutes which was held from April 11-15 still has a very huge impact on the school in a positive manner, factually and emotionally.

Factually, since starting up the SADD project, the school hasn’t had student deaths related to drunk driving or dangerous decisions since January 1999, which was the death of freshman Kelsey Lynn Harrington when a drunk driver ran into a car in which she was riding.  As tragic as that event was, even then the death wasn’t by student hands as the “other” driver was impaired, not anyone in Harrignton’s vehicle.

Enough with the facts for now, though. Time to get in the emotional standpoint.

And as someone who didn’t cry when reading/watching The Hunger Games series, The Fault in Our Stars, The Book Thief, My Dog Skip, and Dead Poets Society, I can honestly say every aspect Every 15 Minutes ripped me apart. I knew a large portion of people who were part of the program, and I’m good friends with quite a few of them as well. It was hard for me to look them in the eye for the most part.

But even before I was a senior, it was hard to look them all in the face. The people who were part of the program were there because it mattered to them on a very deep level, and in a way they wanted to show how much they cared about the issue. One of this year’s Every 15 Minutes members and a very good friend of mine, Katie McMillan, said that her aunt had been hit by a distracted driver, and even though she is still alive she can no longer walk and is emotionally impaired from brain damage received in the crash.

I couldn’t see much of the mock car crash that was held Apr. 14, but the senior assembly for Every 15 Minutes was where I was hit hardest. The clips were pretty impactful, and real tear-jerkers for those in the audience including myself. Though the hard hitter was, without a doubt, the play about the effects of drunk driving. I won’t spoil it for the underclassmen and juniors, but it hit me the hardest because a) all around me were familiar faces (worn out places, worn out faces) [yes I know that won’t work but let me play with words] and b) since a large majority of the actors in the play were really good friends of mine. A few other names to add are Monica Angelico and Courtney White, both of which had important roles.

The part that made me crack at the end, however, was the fact I had to give one of them a eulogy at the end of show. Not to the crowd, it was something I’d done in speech as part of required curriculum and wanted to give her a copy. I barely took one step towards her and I already had to cry on a friend I was with. The fact of losing them scared me, in any situation. I knew it was all an act but I was scared of losing them all to something like that so soon. I knew no one would attempt it, but about people apart from the Every 15 Minutes group?

It took four people to calm me down, three of which were friends of mine in the group, one of which was my friend who I gave the copy of the eulogy to.

That’s my experience with it, though I have to wonder if everyone had the same thoughts and feelings on it as well. Losing someone is bad enough, relative or friend, but so suddenly? Out of drunken pride as well? I know not all accidents are caused by drunk driving, but that’s why SADD also stands for Students Against Dangerous Decisions. People die from drug overdose and suicide. In a nutshell, the project aims at lowering the number of sudden deaths, though it focuses of deadly car accidents and people under the influence too.

Imagine getting the news that, all of a sudden, your best friend or sibling or parent died from a car crash with a drunk driver.

No one wants that.

“This program reminds me that I am loved by so many people who I couldn’t imagine not being able to say goodbye to because of a stupid decision I made,” said Katie McMillan. “It reminds me of the importance of staying safe and ensuring that all of your plans for after high school aren’t cancelled because you weren’t around to make them happen. This program reminds me that I’m not invincible.”

In the back of my head, however, I think that expanding SADD to include suicide and drug overdose wouldn’t be half bad either. It’s not just alcohol that can kill a life. It can be anything else. Over all, I have a firm stance that SADD and Every 15 Minutes does do good work and makes a big impact on the school and students within it.