On May 25-26, Sequim High School juniors and seniors participated in the Grim Reaper “Every 48 Minutes” program, which is designed to inform students about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, riding with a driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or riding in an automobile without wearing a seat belt. The program takes place at the high school every other year.
A black-robed Grim Reaper pulled students from classrooms throughout the day — 23 in all — to symbolize victims of drunken driving. They returned to class, black-robed and silent as the dead for the rest of the school day.
Some of these students participated the next day in a dramatization during the assembly in the high school auditorium. A short play, directed by SHS alum Danny Hall, featured senior Lucas Shores in the role of an inebriated youth who makes the unwise choice of driving home drunk from a party, crashing his car and ultimately being responsible for the deaths of two innocent people.
Keynote speaker Greg Fraser from Seattle recounted the loss of his son, who was killed in a car crash in August 2000 as a result of riding along with a friend who had been drinking. Two families participated in a mock “notification of death” by the State Patrol and were guided through the process of counseling by the Sheriff’s Office chaplain as well as filing the death certificate with the funeral home. These parents and children reflected on the experience by writing letters to each other.
Steve and Patra Boots, parents of junior Byron Boots, and Jonathan and Kendra Simonson, parents of senior Kylie Simonson, provided some very poignant moments as they tearfully read aloud letters written as final goodbyes.
Teacher and leadership advisor Jennifer Van De Wege and her leadership students prepared for the program for many months. Senior Preston McFarlen, assisted by senior Dalton Wilson, organized the event, from lining up volunteers to procuring refreshments.
A huge thank-you to law enforcement personnel for their involvement in the program: Jim Borte and Tim Richards from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Mark Hodgson and Donald Field from the Washington State Patrol, Darrell C. Nelson, Maris Turner and Anthony Graham from the Sequim Police Department, Joe Romero from the U.S. Border Patrol, and Kolby Konopaski and James Brown from Clallam County Fire District #3.
Thanks also to community volunteers Dave Salmon, Barbara Tyson and Kathy Petree of Olympic Theatre Arts; Jennifer Melberg, funeral director from Sequim Valley Funeral Chapel; Tony Toth from Sequim Community Church; Rich Hay from Olympic Bible Fellowship Church; Wayne Yamamoto from Dungeness Community Church; Stephen Rosales, Jose Garcia, Grace Chumley, Penny McFarlen, Bill McFarlen, Kathleen Prince, Naomi Foley, Sequim School District Community Liaison Patsene Dashiell;
Sequim High School teacher Jim Heinz and his photography students; SHS counselors Rik Napora and Colleen Harker; Mike Dashiell of the Sequim Gazette and Mickey Davis, who portrayed a very grisly Grim Reaper.
The support of the following local businesses was greatly appreciated: Evergreen Collision, Sequim Valley Funeral Chapel, Domino’s Pizza, Safeway Food and Drug Stores, Starbucks, Costco, Subway, Tarcisio’s, West Side Pizza and QFC.
Grim Reaper students were Emily Jakubisin, Marissa Haner, Kaitlyn Turner, Mack Grinnell, Justin Wood, Zach Johnson, Trey Baldwin, Isaac Yamamoto, Tina Schwarzwald, Kawika Yasumura, Nick Camporini, Mackenzie Hagstrom, Byron Boots, Amy McAndie, Calli Norman, Lucas Shores, Sarah Marble, Rachel Chumley, Alexi Nelson, Josh Daker, Carlie Dawson, Joey Hall and Kyla Simonson.
Participating Sequim High School social studies teachers were Mike Lippert, Brian O’Hara, Stephani Thompson and Steve Corcoran.