Every parent’s worst nightmare is losing a child. Through life, those unimaginable situations become teaching moments. But what if those teaching moments actually prevented the unimaginable situation from occurring in the first place?
By Chris Slone
Wednesday, Sept. 12, Bowman County High School hosted an all-day teaching seminar in hopes of preventing the worst-case scenario from coming to fruition.
There were 167 students in attendance from eight high schools — Bowman County High School, Scranton High School, Grant County High School, Mott/Regent High School, Beach High School, New England High School and Baker High School in Montana — at Bowman County’s Freshman Impact Day.
“This is just for freshman when they’re most impactful,” Chris Peterson, event organizer and family nurse practitioner at Southwest Healthcare, said. “We hope to really make an impression that they don’t engage in the activities that we’re talking about.”
One of the activities that the students participated in was called seat-belt wars.
“It’s fun. They race to get in and out of the seats belts and it takes them 40 or 50 seconds to get in and out of the seat belts,” Peterson said. “So, then you say if you can get in and out of seat belts in 40 or 50 seconds, then why don’t you wear them all the time.”
There were approximately 100 volunteers who helped throughout the day. The students attempted field-sobriety tests, wearing vision-impaired goggles. They also drove a road course with cones, which were supposed to act as pedestrians, while wearing the same goggles.
“It was difficult (driving with drunk goggles),” Wyatt Dorner, freshman from New England, said.
“It’s been fun. I’ve learned a bunch of interesting stuff. The driving drunk has been the most interesting thing I’ve done so far.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Jamie Maier, freshman from Grant County School.
“It was different, especially messing with your vision,” Maier said.
The students also witnessed a crash scene and a funeral. Overall, the day was supposed to resemble a real-world tragedy.
“If you would put it in real life, this would take years where they get it in an afternoon,” Peterson said. “It starts out with a speaker who talks about how he had a brother who drove drunk and was really hurt and lived months. Then, it goes into the upperclassman writing these skits, so they engage their younger peers. And a mock crash, which is a county drill. Then there is a fatality and they walk into a funeral, and right into a court case with real judges and lawyers.”
This is the second year for this event, which is sponsored by CORE (Community Organized Resources for Educating Youth). According to the CORE brochure, it is a powerful one-day prevention program for freshman students. The students see up close and learn through hands-on activities the possible consequences of bad choices and the lasting effects physically and emotionally on their bodies, their families and friends, and even their communities.
According to Peterson, with eight schools being involved, the program is impacting several communities in southwest North Dakota and Baker Montana.
Alecia Turner, EMT student, said she loves volunteering and showing the freshman why EMS personnel are so important.
“ … I think it’s great for freshman because they’re at that driving stage and they are kind of cocky behind the wheel a little bit, some can be,” Turner said. “Maybe this will enlighten them on how scary a situation can be. Let them ask any questions about any EMS stuff or any questions about a career in the EMS field. It’s a great opportunity for kids to come out and get a new intake on life.”
Peterson said Bowman also uses Freshman Impact Day as an opportunity to conduct a county-wide drill.
“We involve emergency preparedness, we have fire-rescue response,” Peterson said. “We’ve got two helicopters. We’ve got one coming out of Bismarck and one coming out of South Dakota. And then the ambulance. And the drill will end with a teaching moment at the hospital.”