Friday, Aug 23, 2013
Rangers from Glen Canyon last week spearheaded “Freshman Focus,” an event at Page High School.
The small school suffered a tragic loss in August of 2012 when a vehicle was rolled on Lakeshore Drive. The driver, a senior at Page High School who was under the influence of alcohol, was killed in the crash and his friends injured. During the year since that accident occurred, the National Park Service brought together local agencies and the parents of the young teen to create a community outreach event hoping to prevent similar accidents in the future.
Glen Canyon protection ranger Christopher Schreck participated in a similar experience in North Dakota during his time in field training and thought that it could be effective in the Page community as well.
The event took place on August 9th and took freshman students out of class to engage with local law enforcement and firefighters so they could learn about the potential impacts of decisions such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This program is designed to be an annual event for the freshman class, since they have been shown to be statistically more likely to be pressured into trying drugs and alcohol than their older peers. Students participated in team-building exercises and simulations of driving under the influence and met the local law enforcement and firefighting personnel who ensure their safety every day.
Students from the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Unity clubs developed and presented skits which depicted a group of students who entered a non-alcoholic party scene after they had been drinking. In the skit the students left, drove away from the party and got into an accident which resulted in the death of a pedestrian. Outside, emergency medical staff from the participating agencies treated students in a staged mock accident scene and then removed them from the scene via ground and air ambulances.
Afterwards, freshman students returned inside, where they passed through a mock funeral procession for the deceased pedestrian and observed a sentencing hearing for the driver. The young actor playing an underage drunk driver received the maximum sentence of 27 years for her role in the death of the pedestrian.
After the skit, motivational speakers, including the mother of the teen driver from last August’s incident, helped students to see that there are very real consequences for their actions. Local dancers and musicians finished the event on a high note and further motivated students to avoid peer pressure. Nationally accredited behavioral surveys were distributed to students before and after to learn of the impacts that this event may have had on their views of drugs and alcohol.
The event would not have been possible on such a large scale without having so many partnering agencies involved. Arizona Game and Fish, Arizona Highway Patrol, Classic Aviation, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Greenehaven Fire Department, Page Fire Department, Page High School, Page Police Department, Page Substance Abuse Task Force, Utah Highway Patrol, and Utah State Parks all played critical roles in supporting the mission of this event. Local business sponsors also provided nearly $9,000 in monetary and in-kind donations to this great cause.