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Telecom team devotes long hours to 'Every 15 Minutes'

Telecom team devotes long hours to 'Every 15 Minutes'
Grim Reaper
The "Grim Reaper" at Woodside High.
Photos: Isis Roldan & Whitney Diaz
Telecom and Woodside Communications Magnet students and staff worked around the clock last week to produce a DVD of the emotional educational experience called "Every 15 Minutes."

The national program is a two-day event that simulates a fatal car accident involving students. High school students participate in and view the drama as it unfolds. Telecom records the action and produces a DVD that is played for the students the morning after the event, during a school assembly.

The program is organized locally by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, and it entails coordination among police, fire, air ambulance, school, hospital, and funeral services personnel.

The staged car crash is caused by a student driving while impaired, and the name of the program comes from the frequency of such accidents.

According to their website, www.every15minutes.com, "Every 15 Minutes" is "an event designed to dramatically instill teenagers with the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking alcohol and texting while driving." The program is presented in the days leading up to prom and graduation.

This year, "Every 15 Minutes" was held at Woodside High School Thursday and Friday, May 2 and 3.

Twelve TV students participated in the production, along with Telecom Supervisor Ray Price and Woodside Communications Instructor Michael Price. NNPS-TV Sound/TV Engineer Lenny Marble handled the audio.

The students operated six cameras and moved to various locations: Woodside High, Riverside Hospital and morgue, Peninsula Funeral Home, Newport News City Jail and the General District Courthouse. The students rotated through various jobs so everyone got the chance to shoot video.

A Telecom camera operator follows the Grim Reaper down the hall.

A "Fig Rig," which is a mount for a hand-held video camera that looks like a steering wheel, was used during the production. It helps stabilize the camera and gives the operator more control.

During the event, "living dead” students are selected from class and spend the remainder of the day viewing the consequences of the accident silently: at the hospital, morgue, funeral home, jail, and courthouse. They then must spend the night at a local hotel, away from their parents and friends.

Once shooting wrapped -- around 6 p.m. -- Telecommunications Center and Woodside staff hurriedly processed and edited the footage, working overnight right up until the completed DVD was rushed to Woodside for the school assembly at 8:30 the next morning.

The second day of the program involves the junior and senior classes reconvening to remember their "deceased" classmates and to watch Telecom's video production of the event, which includes scenes that took place at other locations the previous day. There is also a guest speaker and the reading of emotional letters to and from the victims.

Copies of the DVD are later distributed to the students and community partners who took an active role in the event.

In addition to NNPS-TV, some of the numerous community partners that played a part in the program are: Riverside Regional Hospital, Newport News Sheriff’s Office, Newport News Police Department, Newport News Fire Department, Newport News Public Schools, Peninsula Funeral Home, LifeEvac 3, David’s Towing Service, Comfort Inn-Patrick Henry Mall, and the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association.

"Every 15 Minutes" production: