A Wisconsin high school told the kids during morning announcements that four of their classmates had died in a car crash, even though they were alive and well and in on the hoax. It was all part of an attempt to teach the students about safe driving — a “shock and awe” tactic that has not gone over well with students or parents.
As the Washington Post reports, students at students at Brodhead High School in Brodhead, Wisconsin (about 100 miles southwest of Milwaukee) gathered in their classrooms for morning announcements last Wednesday, like they do every weekday. The first announcement they heard was that four of their classmates had died in a wreck that morning.
— nbc15_madison (@nbc15_madison) October 28, 2016
Student Sam Bolen, who was in algebra class, said he and his classmates were told the kids had died in an accident involving texting and driving.
“They went into detail about how one of them was rushed to the hospital. I was pretty upset. It is a really small school, like, most of the people really knew who they were. You kind of know who everybody is in a smaller school.”
Needless to say, the announcement that four of their classmates had died in a car wreck went about as well as you would expect. Some students were crying, student Madison Trombley told WMTV-TV (Madison). Others anxiously called or texted their parents.
“A lot of our fellow friends and students actually started crying because they thought these people were actually dead and so I think a lot of them actually called their parents in school too.”
In fact, no students at Brodhead High School had died that Wednesday or any other day this year. They four supposedly dead students were all alive and well and in on the hoax. They had been asked to stay home late that morning and to refrain from using their phones or social media in order to avoid spoiling the surprise.
Ten minutes later, another announcement was made, confirming that the whole thing had been a hoax and that the four BHS students everyone thought had died were very much alive.
As it turns out, the whole thing had been a part of a drill to teach the kids about the dangers of texting and driving. Brodhead’s student council is in the midst of a year-long campaign aimed at safe driving, and last Wednesday’s hoax about the deaths was simply an extreme way to drive home the point.
Sam Bolen is not amused.
“It wasn’t really effective. They were trying to teach using scare tactics which doesn’t teach it just makes you not trust the teachers and any of the announcements you’re going to get.”
Around Brodhead, a backlash has risen up over the hoax, but not against the perpetrators of the hoax. Sam says that he and his mother are the targets of the backlash because they complained about the hoax to the media.
“There’s been a parent that said, ‘If you have a child who’s offended by this, you are raising a weak, drama-filled child.’ It is kind of uncomfortable when you know that teachers are even talking bad about students who are upset.”
Brodhead School District Superintendent Leonard Lueck told the Washington Post that he’s not yet prepared to say the drill was a bad idea.
“While we stand by the worthiness of the activity, we recognize the flaws with how it was communicated.”
Similarly, a Facebook user named Miranda Ryser, who identifies herself as a member of the student council at BHS, defended the drill. The post appears to have been deleted from the publicly-viewable portion of her Facebook page, but the Post was able to capture her comments before they were removed from view.
“To the people who are upset about what happened at school today, good. I hope you’re upset about it because I would rather have you upset and pissed off at the student council and the principal for a day, instead of being depressed because one of your classmates ACTUALLY died.”
Do you believe that Brodhead High School’s student council was wrong to tell the school’s kids that their classmates had died in order to promote safe driving?
[Featured Image by Franck Boston/Shutterstock]