SANGER — A high school senior stood before approximately 750 students in the Sanger High School auditorium Friday to read a farewell letter to her mother.
Shattered glass and debris from two cars were scattered across the school parking lot, and yellow caution tape with the words “do not enter” blocked the area.
The dramatic re-enactment of a fatal car crash at the school Friday morning was part of the Shattered Dreams program, which is aimed at discouraging teens from drinking and driving. The program was presented by the Sanger High Project Graduation group just one day before the school prom, which is set for tonight.
The letter, read by Monica Giles as she was covered in what appeared to be blood and lacerations, drew tears from the girl’s mother in the audience and stirred realization among the students.
“This showed us the consequence of the action and how real it could be,” said Carter Schram, a senior. “Once you kill someone, you can’t bring them back. Your actions are a permanent influence on someone’s life.”
As he watched his peers being carried away on stretchers and one student in handcuffs, Schram said he put himself in the shoes of a parent. He wondered, what if those were his own children involved in such a tragic accident, he said.
The obvious lesson not to drink and drive was not the only lesson that stuck out for Schram.
Tracy Murphree, a captain with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, also stressed for students the importance of looking out for one another and calling for help if they believe one of their friends is intoxicated.
“I’d rather wake up at 3 a.m. in the morning exhausted and mad ... than having them on the road and put their life and someone else’s lives in danger,” he said.
Shattered Dreams impacted not only the students watching the program but also students who had a role in presenting the program.
It was eye-opening for Alissa Payne, a senior who participated in the program.
She said the lesson affected those participating because it made them think about losing a friend.
“I think we all learned a lesson out of it no matter what part we played,” Payne said.
“It can happen to anyone,” said Jayce Bell, another senior who participated.
The scene that unfolded on the school back parking lot was a scene Murphree said he has experienced several times in the past.
The re-enactment “is pretty close to reality” with a couple of differences, he told students — the students who fictitiously died will return to school Monday and students didn’t see what it’s like to knock on the door of some parents and tell them their child isn’t coming home.
Murphree said he’s had parents hit him, beat him in the chest and say he was lying.
“All I could do is hold them,” he said.
One decision can change one’s life and the person’s future forever, Murphree said.
“Don’t let your life be over at 17, 18 years old,” he told students. “Every decision that you make has a consequence. Never, ever make a permanent decision over a temporary situation.”
The program included a special reminder for students at the entrance to the school auditorium — an open wooden coffin with a mirror inside.
The mirror allowed students to see their reflection and “kind of visualize what they look like in the mirror” inside the coffin, Principal Shannon Saylor said.
“I think it made an impact,” she said.
Tammy Bell, vice president of the Sanger High Project Graduation, said the Shattered Dreams program was put on to “open the eyes of all the students at Sanger High School ... to be aware and [to] show this is real and it could happen anywhere.”
“We want them to think, open their eyes,” she said. “If we reach one person through this program, then we felt like we did our job.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.