December 14, 2001. Lubbock Cooper High School student Kelsi Cook is killed in a single car rollover on south Indiana. Cooper Senior and friend, Bradley Madison says, "The driver was drunk and the passenger was not." Kelsi makes a fatal decision, and gets into the car with a friend who had been drinking. Madison adds, "It could've been prevented by not letting teens under the age of 21 drink."
May 7, 1983 Donna Snodgrass's daughter is hit by a drunk driver. Snodgrass says, "He lost control of his car, went across three lanes of traffic and hit another car, went over the median and hit Mary Jane head on in the Volkswagon convertible." Monterey High School sophomore Mary Jane is killed. Snodgrass remembers Mary Jane's sister running up to her in the hospital. "She came running up to us and said Daddy, Mary Jane is dead. Mary Jane is dead, Momma, Momma, she died."
One by one, they shared their stories. Snodgrass says, "This is epidemic. Half of the people in this room, I promise you, half of the people in this room and this is so horrible, will be involved in an alcohol related wreck."
It's assemblies like these that Shallowater High School students hope will bring awareness to just how dangerous drunk driving is. Madison says, "It just opened my eyes to see this does happen. Drinking and driving is a big cause of death in our community and we need to make teens aware of what's going on." Madison is part of The Summit; a group designed to help teens deal with the issues and influences facing them.
Now, Shallowater is taking that idea one step further. State Farm Agent Lisa Caldwell presents the school with a check for $2,000. Shallowater students will use the grant money from State Farm Insurance to develop a safety driving campaign called "Safety Starts with Step one." Shallowater High School Principal Tom Johnson says, "They'll be teaching drivers safety to students here in the high school and also they'll be going to the intermediate and elementary campuses to help teach bicycle safety."
Students will use assemblies, art, theater and hands on demonstrations to address all aspects of driving safety, from drunk driving to aggressive driving. Becky Trent, Shallowater High School junior says, "It's just a great way to give them a taste of reality."
Shallowater High School is one of 25 schools in the U.S. chosen to participate in the Project Ignition program. In December, they'll submit their campaign for the chance to win $10,000. For more information on Project Ignition, ( click here ).