It was only make believe-believe.
But you would never have known it.
This Wednesday and Thursday, Estherville Lincoln Central High School students took part in the Every 15 Minutes program - so named for the fact that every 15 minutes someone is killed in an alcohol-related accident.
Granted, at first, not all students may have taken it seriously. The Grim Reaper walking with his scythe down the hallway. The kids in their 'death makeup'. Both good for a couple good laughs.
Suddenly, though, things began to change.
Students, acknowledged class leaders, were pulled from their classes and study halls and the library. Leave your books, they were told. You're coming with us. Can I call my boyfriend, make plans for this weekend? No. You're coming with us. Cell phones confiscated. White makeup applied replete with contusions, everyone ordered to not speak to them, it soon all became real. Too real.
There was an accident, an arrest, a trial and a funeral - all with crying parents and students.
Wait a minute. This is pretend, isn't it? This couldn't really be going on here at the school. Could it?
Unfortunately, such incidents are in fact all too real. They happen every day - somewhere in the U.S. Here in Iowa and here in Estherville.
The point of Every 15 Minutes isn't to scare people - well, maybe a little - but to scare them into making the right choices. The right choices on prom night. The right choices on graduation night. The right choices through the rest of their lives.
And maybe, just maybe, it will work for someone.
And one life saved would make it all worth it.