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SADD participates in Grim Reaper Day

WORTHINGTON -- Students at Worthington Middle School may still be too young to drive, but that didn't mean they couldn't learn about what can happen when one gets behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

WORTHINGTON -- Students at Worthington Middle School may still be too young to drive, but that didn't mean they couldn't learn about what can happen when one gets behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

The school's Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) participated Wednesday in "Grim Reaper Day," an event dealing with the effects of drinking and driving. While the event is coordinated annually at Worthington High School -- as well as at other schools throughout the region -- it took place for the first time at the middle school.

"Actually, the students requested it," SADD advisor Laurie Knudson said. "We were talking about events we were going to do at the beginning of the year, and that was one of the ones they mentioned."

Some students, including seventh-grader Mitchell Laffen, had older siblings who experienced the day at the high school level. Laffen was one of two students who played the role of the grim reaper on Wednesday.

"I walked into class and tapped a person on the shoulder," Laffen said. After the student was excused from class, "I brought them to the office, and they get a teardrop painted by their eye. And then they get to change into black. We gave them a plaque that said they can't talk because they're just a memory."

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The grim reaper struck every 33 minutes during the school day, as Knudson said statistics indicate that a person is killed in an alcohol-related accident every 33 minutes. A bell also rang throughout the school with the "dying" of each victim.

"I think it shows that people shouldn't drink and drive because it costs other people's lives, even though they're not the ones being stupid," Laffen said.

A total of 12 students were grim reaper victims during the day, each of them members of the middle school SADD club. There are between 20 and 25 members involved in the organization, Knudson said.

One of the SADD victims was seventh-grader Meagan Meier.

"I tried not to talk the whole day because I was a victim," she said. "During lunch, all my friends kept giving me a hug. I don't know if it was because I couldn't talk, or they were just really sad."

Victims stood in a darkened area near the school's front doors at the end of the day so that other students could see how many were affected.

Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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