Editorial: Manitou Hit Hard With Dilemma During Drive Smart


It was the eve of the last day at school, freedom at last for students at Manitou Springs High School who had already taken their finals and the only thing holding them back from summer was M-Term. (A mandatory annual activity students must participate in after school finishes)

Due to M-Term, I had no homework, I had no tests to prepare for. So I took the most of my opportunity and went to a movie with six of my friends. The movie ended, as we drove home we noticed something peculiar. Police lights lit up the sky as if it were day.

Zachary McGee (11) and I drove over to investigate the scene, we had no luck. Police cars blocked off the scene. We speculated that a huge drug bust happened, as it looked like it at occurred at High Point at Garden of the Gods, which is a known spot for partying. We thought that we would just watch the news in the morning and let the reporters investigate, and we drove home.

Our speculations were wrong, dead wrong, a fatal car accident due to alcohol killed former Manitou student Ryan Lanosga.

Lanosga, who recently transferred to Coronado High School, spent three years at Manitou Springs Middle School and his freshman year at High school. He had numerous friends at Manitou, playing football and running track for the Mustangs’.

Being in the same grade as him, I had numerous classes and I would describe him as a little goof ball always in a good mood with a smile of his face.

I remember walking into the back doors on the last day of school to see dozens of students weeping the death of Lanosga. The last day of school was supposed to be students will smiles on their face acknowledging the hard work that they put in over the course of the year with Alice Cooper on repeat.

This wasn’t the case. Certain students who knew him couldn’t bear being in class and the thought of him gone was too much to handle that they went to the cafeteria to be with friends, and not worry about a World Culture class.

One of those students was Alyssa Prince (11), who vividly remembers the day.

“My dad told me that Ryan had passed away before I left the house and it didn’t really register until I got to school. So many people were crying in the commons… It was like you could feel the sadness everywhere you went. Even though Ryan didn’t go to Manitou anymore, that day showed how much he impacted everyone he met,” she said.

Flash forward to this week, which is Drive Smart. A campaign run by Student Council in which students and staff bring awareness to how dangerous driving can be, and how much it can harm everyone around them. Manitou has won Drive Smart twice over the past two years.

In Principal Glenn Hard’s viewpoint, Drive Smart is about planting a seed in students’ and adults’ minds before they choose to drive recklessly.

The death of Ryan Lanosga would be a great opportunity to further teach students that there can be consequences for driving irresponsibility, right?

The school even had plans to have four of Lanosga’s friends at Manitou to talk about the effect that his death had on them.

The four students were Konnor Kaltenbacher (11), Atticus Fredrickson (11), Bryce Coop (11) and Patrick Hain (12).

A couple of them already prepared for their speech that they were going to give on Thursday November 18, during the assembly.

The school, however, changed their mind and decided that Lanosga should not be talked about at all, as it coils have brough up too many bad memories that could trigger students into emotional trauma according to Principal Hard.

“The time frame, it hasn’t been really long since Ryan’s death so we really wanted to be sensitive to an entire population not bringing up in an attempt to just bring an awareness,” said Hard.

The four students were disappointed that the school would at first give them this opportunity and then suddenly change their minds, one of them was Fredrickson.

“It meant a lot to me and I was just put disappointed when not only did they not let us speak, but they swept the whole situate situation under the table as if it never happened,” said Fredrickson.

Instead of the four students speaking this past Thursday, students from schools across the Pikes Peak region ranging from Lewis Palmer to St. Mary’s spoke, and statistics were read aloud about texting and driving, intoxicated while driving and, being distracting at driving. Then all names of students and faculty were shown in a slide show.

Whilst the slide show ran through over 540 students names, taking over two minutes, students began to look to their left or right and chat with a friend. Kids were cracking jokes and not even paying attention to the slides.

The presentation ended and students were told to enter the gymnasium floor and hug people, and tell them that they wouldn’t want to lose them.

Students did that for about a minute and then huddled into small clumps and began to chit-chat just like they did during the slideshow prior.

Students were not content with the assembly, and Kaltenbacher thought he could bring awareness to students better than Student Council did.

“I thought the assembly was flat and didn’t focus on the important points. It was not informative and I thought they (Student Council) could have tried a lot harder to get into the student bodies heart,” said Kaltenbacher.

Wouldn’t you want students at Manitou to realize the real risks of driving? Instead of sugar-coating and telling statistics that students don’t care about, why not tell it how it is? What is more emotional: an assembly that shows the true risks of driving, or a student at Manitou dying because of driving?

And a lot students think that would’ve been a good idea, one of them was Caroline Ruyle (12).

“I think it would’ve been a good idea, I think it would’ve been cool…I think people would’ve gotten really emotional about it though,” said Ruyle.

But that’s what we want! We want students to be engaged during presentations and not have it be a time for socialization. I would rather have students contemplate some decisions after an assembly than walk out of it learning random statistics they could’ve learned online. Localizing an issue would make it more relevant and would make students not want to drive irresponsibly and would walk out of the assembly realizing the true risks.

In the schools defense, during last year’s Drive Smart campaign, the school simulated an accident and that caused students to go to counselors according to Principal Hard, and publicizing an issue like Lanosga’s could cause even more fragile students to trigger.

There’s no doubt that the school and Hard were in a dilemma, they’re trying to protect a certain population of students, yet at the same time addressing the real issues of reckless driving. Its tough, but I’d be more concerned about another being killed due to reckless driving than an assembly.