The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

Knock, knock

‘Shattered Dreams’ program showcases the risks of impaired driving
Sydney Stout
Fairview firefighter checks senior Griffin Peay’s pulse. The crash was staged to raise awareness of the impacts drunk driving leaves.

“Close your eyes.

Sergeant Hunter Lewis stands behind the podium in the main gym. Lewis warned students on the dangers of driving while intoxicated. (Sydney Stout)

Think about their face, think about their smile. Think about the impact they’ve had on your life.

You have that person. You see their face.”

‘Knock knock knock knock knock.’

“My name is Sergeant Hunter Lewis with the Texas Highway Patrol, and I’m here to tell you that person is dead.”

This visualization is merely a self-inflicted reflection for the hundreds of students watching, but it’s identical to the news that Lewis delivers countless times.

Lewis stands behind the Leopard crested podium before the entire student body. The occasion: seniors Griffin Peay and Aidan Abramson’s funeral. 

After months of planning, the PTSO and Lovejoy Productions set their efforts into motion. The “Shattered Dreams” staged car accident made its debut yesterday at 1:20 p.m. to demonstrate the dangers of drunk and distracted driving. 

“It’s an experience that we value highly enough to put the time and effort into because we recognize that an experience is a better teacher than a conversation,” PTSO board member Stephanie McGowan said. “We even looked at doing a smaller scale version, and when we met with the Lucas Fire Department, they said, ‘Yeah, but let’s do it all the way.’”

Eight students took part in the program as actors: Peay, Abramson, seniors Riley McGowan, Molly Martian, Keeton Levin and juniors Hannah Dollinger, Evelyn Kwonn and Ali Arbabi. An email was sent to parents on Tuesday to notify them of the fake car crash.  

“According to [the fire department], this does impact kids,” Stephanie said. “We want to communicate a couple of key things, not just drunk driving but also distracted driving, impaired driving of any kind. We understand from the DPS officers that the combination of alcohol and drugs kills.”

The weekend before spring break Dollinger, along with the broadcast staff, filmed the hospital scene. Dollinger, the crash victim, receives the news that she was paralyzed from the waist down after a spinal injury in the crash. Freshman Chloe Smith edited the film with junior Yamato Ingram as scriptwriter and camera operator.

“Filming in the hospital was extremely realistic, and somewhat scary due to the nature and speed of the nurses and doctors,” Hannah said. “Overall, though, the experience was amazing, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to talk to all of the paramedics and doctors on call about a real situation like the one we were filming that day.”

Broadcast and the PTSO ran “Shattered Dreams” with the help of volunteers, students and emergency response officials. The program not only serves as a PSA to students but as training for the Texas Highway Patrol, Lucas Fire Department, Fairview Fire Department and staff of Medical City Mckinney.

The PHI Air Medical helicopter lands in the front parking lot to pick up senior Aidan Abramson. Abramson played the role of the distracted driver. (Olivia Lauter)

“Last week, DPS had said [because they] have gotten such great support from our community members, they said they would gladly come in during the day and do a presentation and work with us if that eliminates a 3 a.m. knock on the door,” PTSO board member Cherania Dunn said.

In the past, the “Shattered Dreams” project expanded over two semesters. This year, the crew narrowed it down to two months. 

“The feeling stays with you, as well as the visual of it being in front of you, to have that impact on students,” PTSO board member Camille Simpkins said. “If we are able to impact one student, we have done our job.”

Leading up to the car crash, the school held the “Day of the Living Dead” on Wednesday. Every 15 minutes, Casey Littlefield escorted the Grim Reaper to “kill” a student in the building, representing the 28 lives lost every day due to disrupted driving. Students would return to class with zombified makeup and a black t-shirt; they remained silent for the rest of the day. 

“The objective was for people to feel their absence,” PTSO board member Maria Richie said. “Their experience initially was the kids were trying to make the person talk and then they wouldn’t talk, and then they would get mad at them. They couldn’t connect with that person and that’s really a representation of what happens in life.”

The last time the high school ran the “Shattered Dreams” program was six years ago. Sgt. Lewis says that just one of his state troopers arrested three DWIs last weekend.

“You hope that nobody’s out drunk driving, but unfortunately, that is a pretty common occurrence especially when it comes time for prom or a big event like that,” Lewis said. “I think they’re picking a great time to put that thought in everybody’s head. If one person thinks twice before getting in the vehicle after having too many drinks, then you’ve saved who knows how many people.”

Senior Riley McGowan gets arrested by a state trooper. Riley played the role of the drunk driver. (Sydney Stout)

More than 25% of all traffic-related deaths are the direct result of alcohol impairment according to NHTSA. In 2019, 10,142 people died from drunk driving crashes. Lead paramedic Thomas Wood says he works with car accidents on a weekly, monthly basis.

“I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now,” Wood said. “Car accidents are getting more frequent and a lot more dangerous these days. The moment you get behind the wheel of a car and you’re intoxicated, your mortality rate goes up.”

Blurred vision, slower reaction times, loss of coordination and dull senses are some of the many side effects of intoxication.

“When you’re a younger age, it seems like you’re invincible,” Wood said. “There’s a lot of people I know that aren’t here today because they had too good of a time. We all want to enjoy that hype, that vibe, but it was their last choice. Hug your mother. Say hello. Kiss your girlfriend, hold hands. Take every advantage to really care for those you love, because you just don’t get those seconds back.”

All eight actors met in one video to inform the school of their safety following the crash. Since launching for the first time in 2012, the “Shattered Dreams” program continues to inform students about the dangers of drunk and distracted driving. For first responders, it’s a road they know all too well. 

“We get to see the other side of it; we see the family when they first come into the hospital,” Wood said. “‘I wish we hadn’t had that fight. I wish we hadn’t gone to that party.’ Everybody says I wish, I wish, I wish. At the end of the day, you can’t take things back. You can’t erase what was done. I really hope that everyone takes away, ‘Hey, look, I love life. I love myself. I love the people that are around me.’ Love is the most important thing.”

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About the Contributors
Sarah Hibberd
Sarah Hibberd, Editor-In-Chief
All good things must come to an end, but what about great things? Although she’s approaching the end of her high school career, senior Sarah Hibberd is confident her TRL adventures will last a lifetime. With one year left to make her mark, Sarah returns as an over-optimistic Editor-In-Chief eager to maintain The Red Ledger's multi-award-winning legacy. When out of the newsroom, you may find her in scrubs working towards her pharmacy technician certification, stressing over the application process or gushing over her haircare regimen. Sarah is a proud member of HOSA, the Helping Hands Club, and the National Honor Society. As a victim of the baby fever phenomenon and an aspiring healthcare professional, Sarah will stop at nothing to work with tiny humans in the NICU; she believes in speaking for those who can't speak for themselves. She loves Novo Amor music, smelling candles, making lists and laughing with family. Though fiercely independent, Sarah dreads the thought of leaving home, driving her to make this year one for the books.
Calla Patino
Calla Patino, Editor-In-Chief
Strolling into her third year on staff, senior Calla Patino is ecstatic to be back in the newsroom as an Editor-In-Chief, leaving her summer days of folding clothes behind. If she’s not in the newsroom, she can almost always be found at Celebration Park running her miles with her teammates, trying to breathe. Towards the end of the day, Patino enjoys baking her “famous” snickerdoodles, as it’s the only recipe she has perfected in the kitchen, and flip-flopping between Netflix and Hulu. Patino loves her family’s weekly BBQs and making time to hang out with friends. Patino is obsessed with cinnamon-flavored anything, relaxing in the movie club with a bag of popcorn in her hand and traveling to South Africa. Patino hopes to go into journalism after she graduates, but as for now, she can’t wait for this school year to begin. 
Sydney Stout
Sydney Stout, Photographer
Senior Sydney Stout is excited to return to The Red Ledger this year as a photographer. She worked for four years as a photographer. You can often find Stout on the football field running around with a giant camera around her neck or in the newsroom. She walks with a pep in her step and is always willing to chat. Stout enjoys running, debate, photography, traveling and driving around with friends. She is friendly, kind, and in some ways, in her world, an “icon.” She is an outstanding friend and is excited to see what this year has in store for her.
Olivia Lauter
Olivia Lauter, Section Editor
Heading into her fourth and final year in TRL, senior Olivia Lauter could not be more thrilled to soak up every last minute of shooting sports, events and portraits for her favorite publication. Lauter has spent every day of her high school career with a camera around her neck, and you won’t catch her without it until graduation day. As well as being the photo editor for TRL, Lauter is a varsity cheerleader and involved in PALS and NHS. When she’s not on the sidelines with her camera or cheering on the Leopards, Lauter is with her friends, who she adores more than life itself. You will probably hear “last time, best time” and how “bittersweet” senior year is continually from Lauter this year, but she is just excited to spend one more year doing what she loves alongside the people she loves on TRL.

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