As impressive as of this year's "Every 15 Minutes" program was, all the fake blood and broken glass in the world couldn't match the raw emotion displayed by students and their parents during Friday's follow-up assembly at .
"I didn't expect it to feel real," said Tim Myers, whose son, Sean, was one of the students "killed" during Thursday's dramatization. "When they started filming the various parts, I started to experience what it might really be like to lose my son in that kind of accident. It was much more real than I expected. It was more real than I ever want to experience."
Myers and other parents eulogized their children during the assembly, which was presented as a mock funeral, complete with caskets, programs and funeral cards. Sean Myers, a senior and standout athlete at Fountain Valley, echoed his father's sentiments about feeling what it might be like to experience such an unimaginable tragedy.
"It's so hard to put yourself in other people's shoes," he said. "Until you actually picture yourself and hear your parents talk about you as if you were dead—then it really hits you. When my dad was talking, that's when it all became real for me."
The program's finale featured guest speaker Gary Zelesky, whose roller coaster speech hooked the students with humor before slamming them back to Earth with a gut-wrenching story about the death of his younger brother at the hands of teenage drunk drivers.
"Teenagers are teenagers," Zelesky said. "We're not advocating that you're going to be drug-free and alcohol-free for the rest of life. But just think about it. You next choice is your future. Period. The next choice you make, that's your future. What's really great about this for me is that it's bigger than me. This is a cooperation of so many people, and I think the students go, 'Whoa.'