‘Every 15 Minutes’ Requires Student Support to be Effective


Graphic By William Gangnath

In response to recent hazing allegations and then charges for five JV football players at Damascus, all athletic directors held a meeting with fall athletes that reviewed MCPS hazing policies.

“Every Fifteen Minutes” has been an RHS tradition since before 2003, taking place every two years. However, a lack of student initiative resulted in minimized efforts to support an extremely important cause which is a shame.

“Every fifteen Minutes” a person in the U.S. is killed in alcohol-related collision, according to the City of Rockville’s website. There’s no better way than a simulation of that event to teach students of its effects, without actually having to live with the guilt. In the past, the Student’s Against Destructive Decision club (SAAD) organized the event to teach students about the possible ramifications of making destructive decisions, aiming to show students the detrimental effects of seemingly insignificant decisions.

All students should experience the horrific scene staged by “Every Fifteen Minutes” so they recognize the dangers of drinking and driving and the weight of everyday decisions.

The event promoted community involvement as the Grim Reaper took students, representing the “living dead,” out of class, who then painted their faces white and returned to class remaining silent all day. Then, a car crash scene would occur during lunch in front of the school, with a full-out reenactment. The student driver would be taken to a real prison and the victims would be taken to a real hospital, sleeping over at a secondary location to experience a retreat from friends, family, and even phones, facing the consequences of one student’s decision. On the second day, a police officer, parents and victims would speak at an assembly.

“It really shows how much making a poor decision like that can influence an entire community,” alumna Elizabeth Hubbard (‘15) said in a March 2015 Rampage article. “It makes an event like this more of personal thing to people instead of a ‘oh that’s only on the news, it would never happen to me’ kind of thing.”

However, after psychology teacher and former SADD sponsor Christine Zafonte became the IB Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) Coordinator, she stepped down as sponsor, and the tradition of “Every Fifteen Minutes” was delegated to the SGA. While “Every Fifteen Minutes,” can take up to eight months to plan and thousands of dollars in costs, it is better to stage this powerful event, then an alternative.

While it was commendable that SGA took up the task of “Every Fifteen Minutes” last year and chose to go an alternative route with hosting a guest speaker and getting students to put up posters of what they would miss if they died, the fact of the matter was that many students did not even recognize that the event had occurred. This never happened with the traditional “Every Fifteen Minutes” which is a great loss to the student body.

The past two-day program featured aspects that forced students to pay attention, so that even while dealing with chaos of being a high school student, they had to stop and watch the statistic play out. For many students, witnessing the car crash scene in front of the school provided a sincere shock of conscience as they saw classmates and friends splayed across pavement with mock injuries to show that teens aren’t invincible and that the consequences of drinking and driving are real.

Now, it’s up to students to take action. If “Every Fifteen Minutes” is to continue to have the impact on students that it once had, students must put the work into planning the event, and show the community RHS students value standing up against destructive decisions.

If need to fill space, use SADD quote: “I think [SADD] is important for students to understand the decisions that they make not only actively affects them, but their friends and their family,” Zafonte said. “I think it’s important for students to understand that their actions do have consequences and that there are many different types of actions out there, it’s not just drugs and alcohol, but it’s just everyday decision-making that is important to teach and to help develop among students.”