Program proves a sobering experience for students
Published 6:45 pm Friday, April 22, 2011
A head-on collision. The sounds of sirens approaching. Fire fighters working furiously with the Jaws of Life to get an accident victim out of the crumpled vehicle. A young man, motionless as he lifted from the car. No pulse. Dead on the scene. The teenager, placed in a body bag, taken away by a hearse. A teenage girl, driver of the other car, failing every sobriety test administered after a drinking party, handcuffed and taken to jail, facing serious charges and the possibility of a long prison sentence. Parents who will never hug their child again.
It seemed all too real to many who looked on one hazy, humid Wednesday morning in McKenzie. The staged event in front of McKenzie School brought 11th and 12th graders from Georgiana and McKenzie together to watch this frightening scenario played out with actual members of law enforcement, fire and rescue, and the judicial system playing their real-life roles. The goal of the program: to get teens to make the right choice when it comes to drinking and driving. The re-enactment idea was brought to the school by new teacher, Brandy Moseley, who had seen similar programs in other districts.
“We’re holding our prom here Friday night,” said McKenzie’s principal, Randy Williams. “We want everyone to have a good time but we also want them to be safe.”
Circuit Judge Terri Lovell, the former district judge of Lowndes County, said she had experienced all too many times the situation played out for the students that morning.
“It’s a sad consequence that some people have to go to prison due to the choices they make. I’m sure this girl didn’t want this to happen, but she has to face the consequences of what she did. She made the decision to drink and drive and now she is going to prison,” said Lovell.
Butler County Schools Superintendent Darren Douthitt said he believed the program “sent a powerful message” to everyone who watched.
“Hopefully these young people will heed that message,” Douthitt said.
Allen Joyner, pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church and the “voice of the Tigers” for McKenzie football, said one of the worst parts of his job as pastor was sitting with a parent who has just lost a child.
“How would you like to be the one who put E-Man (Emmanuel Johnson) in that hearse. Imagine never getting to see E-Man again. This may seem funny to some of you, but let me tell you, when it really happens, it’s over. It’s final,” said Joyner.
“First of all, underage drinking is against the law. You start too young, you make stupid decisions and your drinking life is cut mighty short.”
Carol Williams, counselor at McKenzie School, said it was hard fighting back the tears as she watched the students being placed on gurneys and in body bags.
“You think about how this could be real. If we can save even one child’s life, it will all be worth it,” Williams said.