NEWS: How did Every 15 Minutes come about?
Jamie Kim news editor
Sophia Goldberg sports editor
Every 15 Minutes, which took place on March 6 and 7, is a two-day program that challenges students to think about driving under the influence and the impacts their decisions could have on others. City-wide collaboration and months of preparation led up to the moving execution of Beverly’s version of Every 15 Minutes.
“The executive committee has been planning this event for over a year. We meet every one to two weeks to make sure every detail is fine tuned. Every 15 Minutes is a collaboration of the city of Beverly Hills, police department, fire department, BHHS, school district and community – all with the purpose of saving lives,” PTSA co-president and Every 15 Minutes sponsor Jodi Galen said.
As the K.L. Peters Auditorium is closed for renovations, the Every 15 Minutes Steering Committee used a ballroom at the Beverly Hilton for the memorial service part of the program and for day one for the freshmen and sophomores.
All of the funding for this event came from community sponsors. Some, such as Karen Setian, the founder of the Vahagn Setian Charitable Foundation, are personally connected to the message the program aims at teaching the student body.
“As you already know, my son Vahagn was killed by a drunk driver in December 2006, and we immediately started the Vahagn Setian Charitable Foundation. When the first Every 15 Minutes event was proposed in 2007, it was a must for the Foundation and myself to be a big part of the event and to give everything that was needed in order to have a successful program,” Setian said.
In addition, there were restaurant sponsors who supplied food for the lunches for those involved with Every 15 Minutes, including restaurants up and down Beverly Drive.
“We are a neighborhood cafe and care a lot about helping our community and schools as much as we can. When we heard about Beverly putting on Every 15 Minutes, we were excited to be able to donate lunch to the students, faculty, policemen and firemen who did such a wonderful thing in putting all of it all together,” Amber Eckerlund of Coral Tree Cafe said.
The committee welcomed student involvement, with ASB senior president Ryan Neydavood as the Every 15 Minutes liaison, to create an experience that would speak to students.
“For me, I was taking care of the students’ logistics and script of the video. I worked with Arian Tabibian and Noah Danesh on making this script/video as real as possible, to give everyone a truly realistic experience,” Neydavood said.
Everyone on the committee, like Neydavood, was intent on creating a real and honest simulation for the student body.
“Honestly, when I signed up to be the liaison four months ago, I did not realize the magnitude of this event. As I learned more about it, I saw the importance of this event in making a difference in the lives of hundreds of my peers. From there, I committed myself to making this event the best it can be, to make a difference in the community and for my fellow classmates,” Neydavood said.
In the end, all of those who were involved in the planning of this program dedicated their time and effort to send a loud and clear message to the students.
“So please, don’t drive while being distracted; don’t let a driver in a car you are a passenger in be distracted, and when walking across a street, have your eyes on the road and cars,” Galen said.
Additionally, Neydavood said that being both a participant in the simulation and a committee member taught him an important lesson about distracted and drunk driving, a lesson that he hopes his peers gained from the program.
“This event, from those directing it, to those in it, to those watching it, get something different from the event. It is unique and special for everyone,” Neydavood said. “I took away a lot from this program, but one lesson that applies to almost everyone is that making the right decision does not only apply to drunk driving, it applies to helping those around you and setting an example for others. We are all educated students with the ability to make the right choice. It is up to us to take action.”
OPINION: Is it worth it?
Evan Minniti staff writer
Drunk driving is an epidemic in America. This shouldn’t come as news to anyone. There is no shortage of PSAs or speakers on the subject of drinking and driving. Frankly, we all know that people shouldn’t drive while under the influence. The insane thing is that many teens still drink and drive. Programs like Every 15 Minutes may actually provide a solution to this frightening contradiction.
Every 15 Minutes is an organization that hosts events around the country to warn teens of the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving includes driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as seemingly mundane things like answering a text or phone call while driving. When the program was started, statistics showed that a teenager died in a car crash related to distracted driving every 15 minutes. Today, that statistic is now every 53 minutes. That is very real progress, but there is still a lot of work that has to be done.
The program staged a car crash in front of Beverly. A number of students volunteered to act as though they were victims of the crash. They were covered in fake blood to make it look like they had been horribly maimed. The cars are actually damaged, shattered glass and crimson stains cover the ground. This is a truly brutal thing to see; this is where the true power of the Every 15 Minutes program lies.
Seeing fellow students, whether they are friends or classmates, seemingly mortally wounded is something that only a cynic would find unmoving. It reminds students of the drastic consequences of ill-planned choices, and the need to seriously plan ahead so they never find themselves in a situation where they drink and drive. They can just call an Uber.
“The point of the program is when you see a friend lying on the top of a car, bloody and unconscious, because of a drunk driver… [I] realize that the situation can become a reality very easily,” ASB senior row president Ryan Neydavood said. “Just seeing a friend in the worst of the worst situations engraves the reality of what one stupid decision can do…Coming into a program of such high intensity, it can be difficult to connect [with it]. But by the time the program is finished, each student will have created a bond with others that is special.”