By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
The “Maze of Life,,” a combination of hands-on demonstrations, simulations and information booths culminated a week of Student Safety Week events Thursday at Mesalands Community College.
In the morning, Tucumcari High School students took a break from intensive preparation for annual state testing to spend their morning touring the Maze of Life’s more than 20 information booths. Many students put on goggles that simulated vision impaired by too much alcohol and tried to drive adult-size tricycles around lined-up traffic cones, a scenario set up by New Mexico State Police.
“It was hard,” Jose Sandoval, one of the students who attempted the cone slalom course, said. “I got dizzy and my timing was off.”
Destiny Montano, another student who tried the tricycle course, said, “It was scary. You didn’t know where you were going most of the time.”
Both said that after attempting the course, they would not be inclined to drink and drive.
Nearby, Harding County Magistrate Judge Karen Mitchell gathered groups of students, and singled one out to “convict” them of driving while intoxicated, then outlining in detail what the sentence entailed.
One 14-year-old girl picked at random received a sentence of probation for two years, 15 days of rehabilitation treatment, 24 hours of community service to be completed in 45 days, and a fine of $500. Mitchell said that’s pretty standard.
The group then proceeded to Bryan Rinestine, the Quay County DWI coordinator, who outlined the details of the probation.
Students received a lesson in drunken boating at a booth manned by the park rangers of the Army Corps of Engineers at Conchas Dam. Here, too, students donned vision-distorting goggles and tried to throw rescue buoys to drowning swimmers, actually targets. Most students tossed the buoys several feet beyond the target or to the side.
Law enforcement booths informed students about DWI and advised them on how to stay safe online.
Mesalands’ STEM program showed three-dimensional views of brain hemispheres, one of which was normal, the other, damaged by long-term alcohol abuse.
There were booths on other topics, such as animal adoption, business and entrepreneurship, and preventing suicide among veterans.
Other events during Student Safety Week included a penny-voting contest to raise money for a scholarship in memory of Meagan McCain, a rodeo team member killed in a traffic collision involving a drunk driver; a free movie night; get-togethers featuring “mocktails” or non-alcoholic mixed drinks, popcorn, pizza and root-beer floats; and a three-on-three basketball tournament.