Raleigh, N.C. — One Wake County school is trying a new tactic to curb underage drinking after the deaths of five students in alcohol-related crashes within the last year, but some say the message still isn't getting across to teens.
The story of Wakefield High School is part of a video that's been a year in the making. After so much tragedy involving students at the school, the filmmakers are hoping these images will help steer students in the right direction.
Last March, four students died when their car plunged off the U.S. Highway 64 bypass. Tests show the driver was drunk.
This January, Wakefield senior Sadiki Young died when the car in which he was riding crashed. Police said the driver had alcohol in his system, and he has been charged involuntary manslaughter. Six other Wakefield students were arrested on alcohol-related charges in connection with the house party to which Young and the driver had gone before the crash.
“It happens, and unfortunately it's happened here too much,” said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. “Anytime it happens, it's too much, but here with five in a row almost, that’s hard to even swallow.”
But some parents said the students who really needed to see the video and hear the discussion weren't at the event and still haven't gotten the message.
“It's very frustrating,” said parent Martha Svoboda. “I think that's the $64,000 question. How much is it going to take, how many of their friends have to die before they get the message? I don't know what the answer is.”
School leaders hosted the second of three forums designed to talk about the effects of underage drinking, called Wake Up Wakefield Part 2.
“I think more kids should come to these than parents because they're the ones that have a big influence on the ax and stuff,” said Wakefield freshman Bailey Dunn.
Wakefield High officials said that's what the event and the video are all about—influences and making the right choices.
“The video that we produced, the intent was to tell our story, but to really look at the bigger picture—at the fact that these accidents are happening all over this country,” said Wakefield Assistant Principal Vivian Wells.
The Wakefield Parent-Teacher-Student Association also started a tip line to which students could report future parties and other illegal activity while staying completely anonymous. They can call the new hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.