Small Bite #4 “i saw My Own Funeral”

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Small Bite #4
I Saw My Own Funeral”

By Mike Dekens, as reported by Denise Willi


This first paragraph of the selection serves as the introduction to this student’s compelling story.

1 Every 31 minutes, someone dies of an alcohol-related collision in the U.S. To recognize National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month [May 2005], Mike Dekens, 18, of Lamoille Union High School in Hyde Park, Vermont, tells about a powerful experience.

2 I died in a car accident last May. Well, not really. My death was staged as part of a mock crash organized by my school's chapter of SADD [Students Against Destructive Decisions]. I played the role of a drunk driver. My friends and l were coming home from a party racing each other at 80 mph. I was so messed up, I couldn't see straight I didn't notice the motorcycle coming at me as I tried to pass my friend's car. I killed not only myself but also the woman on the motorcycle—a teacher at my school—instantly in a head-on crash.

3 Students watched as police and paramedics rushed to help us from the mangled cars in the school parking lot. There was screaming, crying and the sharp sound of sirens. A bloodied sheet was pulled over me as I was pronounced dead at the scene. It looked like a war zone and felt like hell. But what really stunned me was the memorial service at our school the next day. I actually got to hear my own eulogy, but because I was "dead," I had to hide beneath the bleachers so I wouldn't be seen. I saw my casket with my picture and lacrosse uniform on top. I could see my girlfriend crying as my father spoke about me.

4 My heart froze. I thought about my cousin Matt. He died after a drinking binge to celebrate his 21st birthday, when he threw up in his sleep and choked. I thought about how devastating one bad decision can be.

5 I've never driven drunk, but I have been reckless―and I've had some close calls. Luckily, no one got hurt. It's way too easy to think, “I’m young. Nothing can happen to me." Take it from someone who's been dead: yes, it can.

Source: Mike Dekens, as reported by Denise Willi, “I Saw My Own Funeral,” Fresh Voices, Parade Magazine, December 4, 2005, p. 6.


VOCABULARY CHECK


Use the context clues from both sentences to reason out the meaning of the italicized words. The answer you choose should make sense in both sentences.
____1. My death was staged as part of a mock crash organized by my school's chapter of SADD [Students Against Destructive Decisions].
To gain experience, the law students participated in a mock trial.
Mock
(m8k) is an adjective that means (paragraph 2)

a. unfair.

b. lasting a long time; lengthy.

c. simulated; created as a pretend version of an actual thing or event.

d. upsetting; emotionally disturbing.

____2. My death was staged as part of a mock crash organized by my school's chapter of SADD [Students Against Destructive Decisions].


The Future Teachers of America opened a chapter of its organization on our campus.
Chapter (ch#pZtMr) is a noun that means (paragraph 2)

a. a local branch of an organization.

b. a major section of a book.

c. a meeting or session.

d. a club or fraternity.
____3. Students watched as police and paramedics rushed to help us from the mangled cars in the school parking lot.

Because the gardener accidentally ran over a sprinkler with the lawnmower, he had to replace the mangled lawnmower blade.

Mangled (m#ngZgMld) is an adjective that means (paragraph 3)

a. old.


b. rented

c. rusted.

d. damaged.
____4. A bloodied sheet was pulled over me as I was pronounced dead at the scene.
At the end of the wedding ceremony, the minister pronounced the couple husband and wife.
Pronounced (prM-nounsZd) is a verb that means (paragraph 3)

a. declared in a loud voice.

b. declared officially.

c. said a word in separate syllables.

d. said in a sarcastic manner.
____5. I actually got to hear my own eulogy, but because I was "dead," I had to hide beneath the bleachers so I wouldn't be seen.
The minister said exactly the right things, and his eulogy was a touching tribute to my uncle.
Eulogy (yLZlM-j*) is a noun that means (paragraph 3)

a. a formal prayer.

b. speech give by a relative.

c. religious ceremony.

d. a speech praising someone who has died.

COMPREHENSION CHECK
Read each of the following questions. Then select the correct answer choice. Base your answers on information in the selection. You may refer to the selection as you answer the questions.

True or False

____1. An alcohol-related collision causes a death every 15 minutes.


____2. The student who acted as the victim in the mock crash had a change to observe his own “funeral.”

Multiple-choice

____ 3. Some chapters of SADD sponsor the mock death and funeral of a student in order to

a. help students understand how devastating an alcohol-related death can be.

b. how alcohol can ruin a person’s judgment.

c. that people in accidents sometimes cannot be saved.

d. all of the above

____4. The writer

a. had been arrested once for reckless driving.

b. thinks nothing can happen to him.

c. learned how devastating a death from alcohol-related collision can be.


____5. In the mock crash, the student playing the role of the drunk driver collided with

a. a friend’s car.

b. a motorcyclist.

c. a car driven by his cousin, Matt.

d. a truck.

WRITING PROMPTS

Give your responses to each of the following items.


1. How do you think it would affect you if you had the experience described by the student who wrote the article?
2. In the selection, the student describes his experience and the effect on him. What effect do you think the experience had on his classmates?

See www.sadd.org for information on Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.


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