Senior Michael Bible goes back to hitting the books after being "killed" by grim reaper and fellow student Megan Kahn Wednesday afternoon at Beaufort Academy. Students chosen throughout the day were given a black shirt, a sign with the time and cause of death, and they could not talk for the remainder of the day. The goal was to raise awareness about teenage deaths due to destructive decisions prior to prom and spring break.(Photo: Sarah Welliver)
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Bad decisions can have horrible consequences: Eight Beaufort Academy students "died" Wednesday to drive home that lesson.
The students were part of a simulation aimed at teaching their peers to think twice about drinking, texting while driving or other risky behavior.
About every hour, senior Megan Kahn donned a hooded black cape and played the role of the grim reaper. She walked into a classroom and handed a pre-selected student a black T-shirt and a placard stating their time and cause of death. As she tappedanother victim, a funeral bell played over the school's intercom.
The "dead" students were not allowed to talk for the rest of the day -- no matter how much their friends tried to pry even the smallest word out of them.
That was the hardest part, the students said.
Watching her friends have conversations, but not being able to participate "was almost like an out-of-body experience," freshman Molly Harrop said. The simulations were organized by the Students Against Destructive Behavior Club, which was revived this year. Coordinator Betsy Rhatigan said students had asked to do the grim reaper activity all year. Only the students who were "dead" and Kahn knew about the plans ahead of time, though.
They chose this week because it's so close to spring break -- which starts Friday -- and prom, which is later this month.
Rhatigan said she watched students catch on to the simulation throughout the day. Every time the funeral bells rang, a sense of quiet fell over her English classes, she said.
At the end of the day, Kahn drilled the lesson home. She made a school-wide announcement that each day 30 people in the U.S. die in a alcohol-related car crash, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. That's one person every 48 minutes -- the interval at whichanother student was visited by the grim reaper in Wednesday's exercise.
Students said it was sobering to think that someone they knew could die --which is exactly the response Rhatigan and SADD hoped for.
Not interacting with a friend or classmate for a day caused senior Austin Thompson to wonder what it might feel like to lose that person.
"Over the next few days, I think it will sink in," he said of the scenario's lessons.