Just Another Guy with Opinions

Students Traumatized by School

Posted by shadmia on June 13, 2008

Imagine being told that a loved one of yours was dead, killed in a car wreck – only to be told hours later that it was all just a hoax. How would you feel? This is exactly what happened at EL Camino Real High School, Woodland Hills, Ca.

On a Monday morning last month, highway patrol officers visited 20 classrooms at El Camino High School to announce some horrible news: Several students, 26 of them, had been killed in car wrecks over the weekend. The students were unaware that it was an elaborate scheme put together by the school, the police and “missing student” accomplices. It was designed to get their attention on the dangers of drinking and driving. It worked – very well.

Classmates wept. Some became hysterical. Michelle de Gracia, 16, was in physics class when an officer announced that her missing classmate David, a popular basketball player, had died instantly after being rear-ended by a drunken driver. She said she felt nauseated but was too stunned to cry. The plan was to tell the truth to the students at an assembly later in the day, but some students became so distraught that teachers had to immediately tell them that it was just a hoax. According to Michelle “It was pretty hectic.” However many student were left in the dark until the “dead” students turned up hours later.

”They were traumatized, but we wanted them to be traumatized,” said guidance counselor Lori Tauber, who helped organize the shocking exercise and got dozens of students to participate. ”That’s how they get the message.”

At school assemblies, some students held up posters that read: ”Death is real. Don’t play with our emotions.”

”You feel betrayed by your teachers and administrators, these people you trust,” said 15-year-old Carolyn Magos. ”But then I felt selfish for feeling that way, because, I mean, if it saves one life, it’s worth it.”

Oceanside Schools Superintendent Larry Perondi said he fielded only a few calls from parents, while the PTA chapter said it had not heard any complaints. Perondi said the program would be revised, but he would not say how. And he said he was glad that students seemed to have gotten the message.

”We did this in earnest,” he said. ”This was not done to be a prankster.”

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