Bradwell Institute students have geared up for prom this week with spirit-oriented activities, but they’ve also been given opportunities to ponder the ripple effects that stem from their choices.
Earlier this week, children in grades 10 and 12 participated for the second year in Teen Maze, a simulation activity where students play out several hypothetical scenarios that could include jail time, health issues, death or graduation and success.
Guidance counselor Brandi Helton coordinated the event, which she introduced to Bradwell last year after learning about the simulation through her sister, a Bulloch County education employee.
“It made such an impact on the students last year. They talked about it so much. It was the buzz of the school for weeks,” Helton said. “We wanted to give the students who did not experience it last year the chance to experience it this year.”
Helton added she’s grateful for volunteers from Georgia State Patrol, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Stewart, Liberty Regional Medical Center nurses and Savannah Technical College’s health occupations and other organizations.
Mount Zion Youth Pastor Christie Conyers and volunteer Chastinie Dixon worked a station called “the funeral home,” where an open coffin held a mirror propped to reflect the images of those whose scenarios ended in death.
By Wednesday morning, more than 40 students had stopped by the station, where their names were written on sheets of paper that looked like gravestones and their obituaries were read over a loudspeaker.
“Some of them really get it, like ‘You know, that’s not the way it was supposed to go,’” Conyers said, adding that one girl came through the station and began crying as she pondered the impact her choices could have on the rest of her family. “The ones that got hit by a drunk driver and it wasn’t their fault, they were really irritated.”
Though some students laughed their way through the exercise, Conyers said she hopes the message sinks in once they reflect on the experience.
Another possible outcome was pregnancy. At that station, students learned about gestation, wore bellies to mimic the process and then carted dolls around in infant carriers.
Senior Hezekiah Murray reflected on the experience while cleaning up trash as part of a 20-hour community service sentence.
“Bad decisions get you nowhere,” Murray said, adding the lesson might make him rethink his actions in the future.
Another senior, Raequan Brandy, agreed.
“It’s really realistic,” he said. His scenarios made him a victim of “sexting” who then developed an “alcohol addiction.”
When they got to the graduation station, the teens got to pose for pictures with a robe and diploma before snacking on cookies and cakes.
“We all want to graduate,” Brandy said.
Military counselor Jennifer Alejandro conducted exit interviews, and she said most students seemed to be impacted.
“I think the one station that hits home for them is the pregnancy one where they put on the belly. A lot of the girls are saying, ‘Oh, I never realized what it would be like being pregnant,’ …,” she said, adding many also were rattled by the funeral station. “I think that’s been a real eye-opening experience for them, you know, how one choice can change everything not just for them, but for other people.”