Mock crash at EL-G High School leaves lasting impact

by Rodney Schroeter of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE—Students Cody Schmitt and Jake Shovan summarized a mock crash project they coordinated, as they addressed the board of the Elkhart Lake- Glenbeulah School District at the board’s monthly meeting on May 19.

Schmitt said he got the idea from seeing similar mock crashes, staged by other schools, on YouTube. He planned and coordinated the event with EMS, all of whom were willing to volunteer and help with this educational project.

On May 1, the mock accident was set up in the high school parking lot. Before students viewed the crash scene, they assembled in the auditorium and saw a video that Shovan had prepared, to set a fictional context for the simulated crash.

The video showed a drinking party. Several young people leave the party, get into a car, and drive off. They drive into the high school parking lot and confront the headlights of an oncoming car.

The screen goes dark.

A 911 accident call is heard.

Then, said Schmitt, “The whole student body went out and watched, from start to finish, what happens in a real accident.” Students watched as helicopters, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles arrived and emergency medical services personnel went through a completely authentic enactment of an accident.

Shovan and several others video-recorded the entire event.

Afterwards, students returned to the school. A panel discussion was held, involving the state trooper who responded to the accident, a doctor, and the Flight for Life crew. Senior Dan Schneider, who had been involved in a tragic accident, also addressed the students.

High School Principal Jim Brown complimented Schmitt and Shovan for their efforts. Several people commented that the entire project was exceptionally well done and carried great emotional impact.

Superintendent Ann Buechel Haack said the fictional video showed the dangers of drinking and driving, but reminded people that texting while driving is also a cause of accidents.

The video can be found by going to You- Tube and searching on “Elkhart Lake Glenbeulah High School Mock DUI Crash.”

Forensics gold medalist

Nikolai Yasko, English teacher and Forensics coach, introduced Nick Miller to the board. Miller had been awarded a gold medal at the State Forensics Tournament, held in March at Ripon College.

This year, Miller said, he’d decided to challenge himself with the category, “Radio Announcing.” Miller explained that contestants, given a packet of news stories on the spot, have 30 minutes to review the packet and prepare a 5-minute radio news broadcast.

Contestants are docked points if the broadcast is more than five seconds over or under the specified five minutes.

Mr. Yasko told the board he was very proud of Miller’s achievement.

Miller told the board it was his third year of participating in Forensics. His initial involvement, he admitted, had not been his choice, but he said, “I’m very glad that I did, because now it’s one of my favorite extracurricular activities. I hope that my performance inspires other kids to try it.”

Miller read a portion of his award-winning radio broadcast for the board.

Policy service approved

Richard Zimman, representing Neola Policy Services, addressed the board. His company works with school districts to ensure that their policies meet each district’s individual needs, while including anything mandated by government agencies (such as the Office for Civil Rights) that regulate public education.

Zimman told the board, “The theory behind a lot of this, and the reason more and more boards are moving to this, is that superintendents have so much to do, that this is basically something that’s pretty simple, in a sense, to just contract out, and spend your time doing something else. Don’t tie up your time writing, trying to guess what the Office for Civil Rights wants. Just get it done so you can do something ‘more important.’”

Zimman said Neola warranties its policies. If a client district is following the policies provided by Neola, and if there is a legal challenge, Zimman said, “Neola will provide an attorney and legal assistance free of charge.”

When it was asked whether the EL-G School District could write its own policies (or adapt and tweak another school district’s policies) and save money, Superintendent Buechel Haack pointed out that, if there were any question about a policy, it would be reviewed by the district’s attorney. It was agreed that the district would likely not save money by writing its own policies.

Neola also keeps track of changes in government regulations and requirements, which occur often, Zimman said. A district buying Neola’s services gets its current policy updated to start out with, and continues to receive updates as they occur.

Buechel Haack said another benefit of working with Neola would be having the policy in electronic form, available to everyone and searchable by keyword.

The board unanimously approved moving forward on working with Neola.

Other board actions

The board unanimously approved:

Several maintenance projects

Adoption of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys Reading / Language Arts program for grades K-5

The 2014-15 Student Handbook

A request for an out-of-state field trip for the FCCLA (Family, Career, Community Leaders of America)

Several changes in staff (though one issue was tabled for a future, closed session)

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