Nov. 17 was the hardest day I have ever spent at Granite Bay High School. No finals days or days full of drama could come close to comparing with the raw emotion I felt on Nov. 17.
This day was the culminating day of the Every 15 Minutes program, which was designed for juniors and seniors to raise awareness of the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The program started with all the juniors, seniors, several first responders, EMTs and GBHS faculty gathered in the gym.
It’s tough to say which parts of the assembly stood out most to me – the “living dead” walking onto the stage with photos documenting their happy, bright lives cycling behind them; the man who spoke about losing his nephew in a drunk driving incident; the letters from the “dead” to their families and friends, apologizing for not being able to be there at family gatherings; or the letters from family members to the dead, reminding them of their potential and how much they will be missed.
The experience was traumatic for me. My initial reaction was one of ultimate sorrow. I cried because all the people sitting on that stage had such bright futures ahead of them and shone so brightly in so many other people’s lives.
I had a few friends who were among the “living dead,” and several other members of the dead were classmates, or people I had conversations with, or had seen around on campus. Seeing them walk behind a casket was disturbing, and my only comfort was the knowledge that it was a simulation.
Yet people like that are killed in accidents everyday, and families, friends and communities are forced to cope with their loss. When I went to lunch after the assembly, few people could eat their food at first. People were numb, in shock and sad. My distress brought on fear.
When I looked around, I saw blotchy faces, but primarily I envisioned the thought of losing each person I looked at.
Friends and classmates saw me crying and came to give me hugs. Each hug made me think about how could I function without them, in turn bringing on a fresh set of tears.
I know I, along with most of the student body, would be greatly affected if any particular GBHS student lost his or her life, no matter how.
I truly hope we always remember the way we all felt that day. The prospect of losing classmates impacted us all, in varying amounts, and in different ways.
And if you were one of the people laughing, taking the program lightly and failing to learn any lessons from the simulation, I hope you won’t have to learn from a real incident.
Each person has a place in our school and in our community. Stay safe, Granite Bay.