Students at Brodhead High School in Wisconsin received terrible news last week: Four of their classmates were dead, killed in a car accident caused by texting and driving. In a school with fewer than 350 students, the school’s announcement hit hard. Several students cried, while others immediately contacted parents.
Little did the students know that the accident never really happened.
School administrators had staged the whole thing in an effort to raise awareness about the perils of text messaging while driving. Staffers had even enlisted “killed” students to participate in the scheme, instructing them not to answer text messages from their panicked friends.
“They went into detail about how one of [the students] was rushed to the hospital,” one student told the Pioneer Press. “I was pretty upset. It is a really small school, like, most of the people really knew who they were. You kind of know who everybody is in a smaller school.”
That stunt has outraged students and parents, even drawing national attention. The school district’s superintendent formally apologized Tuesday, saying the idea was well-intended but that communication problems caused undue stress.
“They were trying to use scare tactics, which doesn’t teach,” another student told the local CBS affiliate. “It just makes you not trust the teachers and any of the announcements you’re going to get.”