(Photos by Randy M. Cauthron) [Order this photo]
Students at Clay Central-Everly High School were called from their warm classrooms at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and told to exit the building.
What they found waiting for them outside, in addition to a mix of sleet, rain, cold and wind was an accident scene involving five of their classmates.
Sievers and Manwarren have orchestrated the program at Spencer, Okoboji and Spirit Lake high schools. This is their first appearance at CC-E. What keeps them coordinating something that requires them to begin planning in September each year?
"The kids," Sievers said. "If we can help them make the right decision at some point in their life, it's all worth it."
Manwarren believes Every 15 Minutes definitely has an impact.
"We've heard a lot of good comments. I do think we make an impact," Sievers said.
"The program has opened up a line of communication that you might not normally have," Manwarren said.
The actors involved: Roman Fahnlander as the drunk driver; Clayton "Bubba" Kahl, who died at the scene; Jess Manning, who sustained critical injuries; Emily Jobst, who passed late in the day at a mock hospital emergency room; and Madison Manwarren, who escaped with some scratches and bruises before calling in the accident.
Joining the student actors were volunteers who performed in their actual life capacities as sheriff's deputies, emergency responders, attorneys and judges, and E.R. doctors and technicians.
"Without them we wouldn't be able to pull this off," Sievers said.
The day begins with the accident, continues to a staged emergency room scene - complete with the real medical professionals - and a sentencing of the driver to 60 years in prison. That wraps up day one.
Day two, the hardest by far, involves funerals for the two fatalities. Parents, clergy and students participate as they face the actual premise of having to say goodbye to their friends.
After the students witnessed Jobst passing on the emergency room table, her parents grieving over her dead body, and the sentencing of Fahnlander, they were excused for the day with a message.
"We all have choices we make ... I hope you'll reflect on what you've seen and heard today," CC-E school counselor Ashely Tessum told the auditorium full of students before releasing them for the day.