Nine Badger students, ranging from seventh to twelfth grade, sat in a crowd full of fellow students and friends sporting a black shirt and white face paint. A bell chimed and one of these nine students stood up and walked away from the crowd toward a chair, followed by another bell and another one of these students getting up. All nine bells chimed and all the students came up, sitting in chairs while each holding posters designed in the likeness of a gray headstone with the letters “RIP,” a cross, and their first names printed on them.
One by one, the students stood up to read their own obituaries after each symbolically dying due to different distracted driving accidents.
This ceremony led to some strong feelings, especially when these students read their own obituaries. No one in the crowd was talking at this time either.
“When we were doing the whole thing, I looked out and there were quite a few people I saw crying,” said Emma VonEnde, one of the students heading up the project.
Badger sophomores VonEnde, Tessa Blumer, and Kennedy Truscinski organized this FCCLA project, one teaching some lessons, but also highlighting the perils of distracted driving and leading to some emotional moments like the one mentioned earlier.
The project started the week of April 1 and culminated with this ceremony on Thursday, April 5. These three girls talked about this project, including its activities, the emotions it elicited, and the reasons they decided to pursue it.
Through this project, these girls wanted to make a difference.
“We didn’t want this to just touch our students. We wanted to touch our community,” Blumer said. “… We wanted to get out to the community that distracted driving is a big problem and we would like to make a change.”
Scoring a 98 out of 100 after presenting this project at its FCCLA regional event on January 24, the girls qualified for the FCCLA State Conference in Bloomington, April 19-21, giving them the chance to continue to highlight this issue.
The girls wanted to make this issue real, beyond statistics, by putting faces to it– a chance to show that tragedy due to distracted driving can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
“The time to act is before a tragedy happens,” the girls’ FCCLA Advisor Gretchen Lee said, “and that is what makes this such a great project; we can remind people to make good choices and be safe.”