Branson High loses five students in one school year

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BRANSON, Mo. It has been a tough school year in Branson to say the least. The district has had three fatal car crashes to deal with.

Five students were killed in those crashes, and one has moderate injuries. Three of the students who died were supposed to be graduating seniors this school year.

"I had this perfect idea of how my senior year would go, and this is definitely not part of it," said senior class president Savannah Sinclair.

One loss to handle is tough at any age, but five in one school year seems unfathomable.

"I think overall, it has been really hard on us and it's taken a toll on our school as a whole," Sinclair said.

If anyone can make a lesson out of something-- it's an educator. And those at Branson High School-- are hoping the reality of difficult loss and decision making outside school hours-- sinks in.

"We would hope that they find a way with what they've gone through this year to establish those good habits," said high school principal Jack Harris.

Good habits, he says, like students not driving while impaired or distracted.

"The question is: is there anything that we can do more that can help educate our kids when it comes to driving and appropriate choices, and we start at the junior high age," said superintendent Dr. Brad Swofford. He says perhaps this year more than any, choices will become more intentional.

"You don't feel like something like that could happen to you and your friends and stuff, but we have five examples that it is real and it is possible, but I think it has made us way more aware," said Savannah.

Three seniors have lost their lives this year, one junior and a student who graduated last year.

"I've been able to talk with people, and lean on people that I never thought I would be able to do, and that's just such a blessing to be able to call them like my best friends now," said Sinclair. "Just because of things we've gone through, we are that much closer as a school."

The district says each crash could have been prevented with better decision making behind the wheel, and not driving distracted or impaired.