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Four Maiden High School students were treated to an afternoon of limousine rides and Olive Garden cuisine instead of study sessions and school lunches.Â
Seniors Rebecca Gates and Matt Ellis, along with juniors John Kirby and Taylor Abshire, werenâ€™t skipping class to enjoy their afternoon out; they were being rewarded for winning first place in the Distracted Driving Video Contest.
The contest was sponsored by the Community Child Protection Team and the Child Fatality Prevention Team of Catawba County, in conjunction with the Catawba County Youth Council. These organizations collaborated in an effort to promote awareness of the dangers of driving while distracted.
â€śI think itâ€™s pretty important (to warn people),â€ť said Kirby,Â â€śA lot of people (drive distracted), and itâ€™s dangerous.â€ť
Thirteen videos were submitted in the contest by Catawba County students to be considered by a panel judges.
Maiden High School teacher Monica Smith thought the contest was an educational way to integrate a relevant issue into her video-editing class. Miller assigned 12 students the task of breaking into groups, with each group responsible for creating a 1 minute and 30 second video to discourage distracted driving.
Catawba County Public Health services manager Jennifer McCracken hopes that the video contest does more than just reach out to teenagers. Wanting to get statewide publicity, McCracken is currently in contact with Brenda Edwards, state Child Fatality Prevention Team coordinator, in an attempt to get the youth-produced messages to as many people as possible.
McCracken said that anyone can fall victim to distracted driving, and itâ€™s important to recognize what drivers can do to avoid putting themselves and others in danger.
According to the winning video, statistics report that 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 years old who were involved in fatal car accidents were distracted while driving. Distracted driving includes texting, eating, talking, listening to loud music or putting on make-up.
Catawba County Schools Superintendent Glenn Barger thanked the students on behalf of the school system. Barger said too many high school students die each year because of distracted driving. He said Maiden studentsâ€™ efforts to prevent these accidents by creating their winning video are not only important, but admired.
Action Limousine in Newton and Olive Garden in Hickory donated the grand prizes.
â€śWe really appreciate that and want to recognize them. If our businesses get behind our young people, it really makes a difference,â€ť said Catawba County Social Services public information officer Margaret Allen.
Additionally, students from St. Stephens High School won the Viewerâ€™s Choice award and will receive a pizza party at their school.