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TALKING HER DOWN: SCIL students practice some suicide intervention techniques on county probation officer Barbara Martin, who was standing on top of the Monticello Neighborhood Facility Friday playing the part of a suicidal pregnant teenager as part of SCIL’s fifth meet of this year.

SCIL Challenges Students With Crises

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — April 14, 2000 -- The situation was tense.
A pregnant teenager was standing on top of the Monticello Neighborhood Facility, threatening to jump three stories down in front of a crowd of curious high school students.
Three of those students, however, were standing near where she would fall to perhaps fatal injury, attempting to coax the suicidal teen out of her desperate plan.
“You have your whole life ahead of you – you don’t want to end it now.”
“We’ll help you work things out with your family.”
“Just walk down the stairs and talk with us.”
The teen was difficult, though, and most calls for reasoned discussion were met with stiff resistance.
“Do you know what my father will do if he finds out I’m pregnant? He’ll kill me!”
“It’s all my stupid boyfriend’s fault!”
“I’m not coming down!”
Eventually, more teens had a chance to speak to the distraught young woman, with varying degrees of success.
Thankfully, the tense situation was actually a planned simulation, and the “pregnant teenager” was actually county probation officer Barbara Martin – who volunteered to stand at the top of the Monticello Neighborhood Facility building to increase the believability of her act.
The teens trying to talk her down were members of eleven SCIL (Sullivan County Interacademic League) teams from all eight of the county’s public schools. The theme of this 9-12th grade meet (Round 5) was “Crisis for a Day.”
Created by former SCIL coordinator Bill Duncan and current coordinator Brian Tingley, the four-hour-long event featured all sorts of real-life crises to challenge the teams of 13 students from each school (Monticello had two teams, and Sullivan West’s three component high schools had separate teams).
Not every student participated in every crisis. Teams broke up to cover four daylong situations or rotated through seven stations.
The situations took slightly longer than the stations, consisting of a group problem solving effort, a letter regarding a person’s tragic death, a court case between Microsoft and Standard Oil, and a presidential foreign affairs crisis. In the latter case, students had to give a speech in the county government center’s lobby regarding the U.S.’s response to an invasion of Panama by Cuba.
The stations sometimes were very short affairs. At a table innocuously marked “Defusing Bio Bomb,” students occasionally were there less than five minutes. Answer a biology question correctly, and you got a non-lethal wire cut on a fake biological bomb. Answer one wrong, and you had to pick a wire to cut – pick right, you continued on; pick incorrectly, and the unexpected popping of a balloon – signaling the detonation of the bomb – was your reward.
Outside on the lawn of the Neighborhood Facility, students were challenged to choose ten out of 13 things they could do within 14 minutes to rescue a person trapped in a totaled car (with a real car and dummy donated by a local collision repair business).
There was, of course, the suicide intervention station, but students were also presented with challenges such as saving a trapped child in a multi-story burning building, successfully resolving a labor dispute, managing resources, and determining wise investments.
“A lot of them are mental challenges,” said Brian Schulman of the Monticello team. “These are things that are less remote [than at most SCIL meets] from the real world.”
“I thought it was really cool, especially the financial investment part,” added teammate Chris Trombley. “Now that we’re getting into this day and age, it’s become something everyone should know.”
Judges from across the county converged on the facility to pick the winners in this round, and while specific figures had not been finalized as of press time, overall standings are as follows:
• Liberty – 965 points
• Tri-Valley – 924 points
• Monticello – 914 points
• Fallsburg – 901 points
• Delaware Valley – 899 points
The next and final SCIL-Sr. meet is scheduled for May 12, and although the agenda is always kept secret, Eldred CS’ Robert Sparling expressed what he hoped it would be about.
“I’m waiting for world domination SCIL,” he said with just the slightest hint of a smile. “I think I can win that one.”

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