Cane Toads : An unnatural history, it was November 1, 2008 and my advanced placement environmental science teacher (apes) was showing our class a documentary on cane toads, an invasive species to Australia. The cane toads had been introduced to Australia from Hawaii in an attempt to save there sugar crop from a particularly aggressive insect which feeds on the farmers crops . Normally the idea of watching a two and a half hour documentary about some toad species which I will probably never hear about ever again would’ve put me to sleep but that day I was enjoying just letting myself day dream. The day before had been Halloween ,my favorite holiday. I had my costume picked out for months I was Marie-Antoinette (post guillotine) and had been looking forward to the parties and shaving cream fights that usually ensue after stuffing your face with just enough sugar for your second wind. But there had been none of that the day before, no one could really have fun , because earlier that morning there had been a terrible car accident, involving kids we all knew, at our west campus . The day Michael Western and Dan DeStefano ages 17 had died. The sky seemed to turn grey and there was a distinct chill in the air, teachers, administrators, I had seen everyone cry and I attended school at the eastern campus ,most didn’t even know them but the whole town felt the loss. I never got the privilege to meet Dan but I was very close with Mike my freshman year. After that year our school split to east and west and we lost touch. Immediately upon meeting mike you could tell what a nice guy he was ,always had a smile on his face and while ninth grade was a stressful year for me personally he always tried to make me smile every time I saw him, just a genuinely good person. As I sat there in apes watching the cane toads taking over Australia I looked at the clock I realized that it was not 24 hours ago that Mike was alive. He was just gone, seventeen and his life was over . Strange the first time one of your peers die its like your staring your own mortality in the face and suddenly it becomes apparent, you are not invincible and for the first time its not some cautionary tale on the news ,its real, it could have been you. I quickly turn my attention back to the video and submerge myself in the documentary. These next few scenes were about how the increases of cane toad eggs in the estuaries had disturbed the fish population and the adolescent fish were getting killed before they had time to grow and defend themselves. It wasn’t too long before I thought about the accident again. What was to blame for the crash ? Was it that the boys were too young too be in the car like most parents felt? Had they left their estuaries too soon? Was the solution to preventing it to ban the use of cars during the school day? Was there a solution? I kept thinking but there was no solution because the problem had been an accident. For the months after the accident at school kids slowly been losing more and more privileges and it was all to keep us safe. What everyone failed to stop and realize was how virtually useless our efforts in trying to prevent accidents and tragedy’s from happening was. We had taken the drivers safety courses and we had seen the videos , they prepared us as well as they could have but there was an accident. My mother had always told me I wouldn’t graduate High School without seeing someone I knew pass away. So many people cried at mikes funeral for the life he never got to live and the goals he never got to pursue. Sometimes there is no explanation . I believe that even though we might want to take the ones we love and keep them safe , life has no guarantees and terrible tragedies happen but you cant let that stop you from experiencing life.
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