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Telecom crew part of 'Every 15 Minutes'

Telecom reporter on the scene
Telecom student Teonja Tatum reports from the scene, while Darin Cooper video-records.
Telecom staff photos

As prom season approaches each year, Telecom students are doing more than looking for fancy clothes and a date for the big event. They are working as camera crew and TV reporters as part of "Every 15 Minutes," a national program that warns of the dangers of driving while distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This year's event was held April 26 at Warwick High School.

Telecom students, led by Telecom Supervisor Ray Price, spent the day video-recording the action to produce a video to be shown at the school assembly the next morning.

"Every 15 Minutes" takes place at numerous locations: the school, the hospital, the court house, and the jail. The video allows everyone to see what transpired at the other sites. It also provides interviews with the victims recorded prior to the accident, and interviews with the parents as well.

"Every 15 Minutes" simulates a fatal car accident involving students. High school students participate in and view the drama as it unfolds: Police and Fire personnel arrive on the scene, the "Jaws of Life" cut into a car, a medevac helicopter lands nearby, a driver is arrested, bodies are covered, victims are taken away by ambulance and hearse.

Telecom student in fire truck tower
Telecom student Jason Hoyle is ready to go up in the fire truck tower to get video footage from above.

The sobering event is presented in time to inform and warn students prior to prom and graduation. It is organized locally by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, and it entails the coordination of police, fire, air ambulance, school, hospital, funeral home, and court personnel.

videographer and girl with head bandage
Telecom student Jason Hoyle gets footage at the hospital.

According to the "Every 15 Minutes" website, the event is "designed to dramatically instill teenagers with the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking alcohol and texting while driving. [The] powerful program will challenge students to think about drinking, texting while driving, personal safety, and the responsibility of making mature decisions when lives are involved."

Telecom students who participated in the shoot as Camera Operators were: Darin Cooper, a senior at Menchville High; Jason Hoyle, a senior at Woodside; and Corey White, Telecom intern and senior at Virginia Wesleyan University. Teonja Tatum, who is a senior at Heritage High, was the on-camera reporter.

Hoyle had the distinction of getting to go up in the fire department's tower ladder to shoot video from that vantage point.

Price and Telecom Instructor Carl Daniels, Jr. video-recorded the interviews at the studio or in the homes of the "victims" and parents. They had to be shot on the weekend.

Daniels also served as Editor, a job that requires overnight dedication, as the video must be put together, converted, and put on DVD in order to be at the school in time for the 7:30 a.m. assembly.

"Every 15 Minutes" is a shocking and sad event, but a great learning experience for all involved.