A local high school effort to encourage a community-wide commitment to safe driving could earn a concert featuring an "American Idol" winner or up to $100,000 for Meridian and Lauderdale County schools.
Clarkdale High School is participating in this year's Celebrate My Drive, a nationwide campaign created in 2012 by State Farm Insurance to share the belief that safe driving is a lifelong commitment from the start. The campaign coincides with National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW), Oct. 20-26.
Car crashes are the leading killer of teens and the first year on the road is the most dangerous – factors which prompted Clarkdale's interest in Celebrate My Drive.
"Last year was such a rough year – not only here at Clarkdale, but also all of Meridian – with how many teenagers we lost to car crashes," said CHS senior Samantha Haywood, who is leading the school's campaign efforts.
"We thought now would be a good time to try our hardest to introduce more safe driving, using incentives instead of focusing on the negative. We want to make it into a positive to keep it from happening to more people," she said.
According to State Farm, research shows that sharing and celebrating positive teen driver safety messages with today’s young drivers is more powerful than scaring them with the possibility of negative outcomes.
Schools participating in the Celebrate My Drive are eligible for one of the following incentives:
• 1 of 10 $100,000 grants
• 1 of 90 $25,000 grants
• 1 or 2 grand prize concerts with Kelly Clarkson
While the concert would be considered by many as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Clarkdale students have set their goals on the money.
"We're targeting the $100,000; we're in the small schools category, so it's not an unreachable goal," Samantha said.
Ten percent of the grant check awarded must be spent in support of a teen driver safety program to benefit the students. The remaining 90 percent can be spent on school-related needs defined by the winning school and approved by State Farm.
"If we win the $100,000, we would like to share it with city and county schools willing to work with us on this (initiative) because we want to help the community, not just our school," the Clarkdale senior said.
Safe driving commitments from students, teachers, faculty and staff, and the community are needed to make this a possibility. An account has been set up for Clarkdale High School and beginning today, votes or commitments may be cast on behalf of the school. Participation is limited to individuals 14 and older; votes may be cast once per day.
Voting will continue through Oct. 26.
Winners will be announced Dec. 9 on www.celebratemydrive.com and grants awarded Dec. 18-Jan. 18, 2014. Clarkson will be in concert Spring 2014.
Even if Clarkdale High School is not among the prize winners, Samantha said local and area school still will have achieved something for their participation Celebrate My Drive.
"It's not really about the money for us, we just want everybody to be safe," she said.
Are you committed?
Join the online community of Celebrate My Drive and support your favorite high school by making a safe driving commitment today through Oct. 26 at www.celebratemydrive.com
One commitment per person, per day.