It was a mixture of riotous fun and somber stillness.
Payson High School students listened intently Friday as speakers outlined the dangers of driving impaired or distracted during the Celebrate My Drive assembly, which encourages teens to make safe choices behind the wheel while still celebrating the freedom that comes with getting a driver’s license.
The assembly kicked off with a bang. The band Moonshine Mafia ushered students into the auditorium and local State Farm agent Eric Santana, who helped lead the event, handed out gift cards and raffled off a Kindle Fire.
The bubbly mood turned serious though when Santana played a slide show of pictures from a fiery vehicle accident; they were from a fatal accident that claimed Santana’s younger brother.
“They were goofing off,” he said.
Santana implored the teen audience to think twice when they get behind the wheel, put away their cell phones and pay attention. He encouraged them to take the safe driving pledge, which State Farm is hosting during the week of October 18-26 as part of the Celebrate My Drive initiative.
Students and community members are encouraged to make a safe driving commitment on behalf of PHS. The more commitments made, the better the school’s chances of winning a grant and even a concert from Kelly Clarkson.
Speaker Dana Marie reiterated Santana’s safe driving message.
When she was a teen, four of her friends invited her out for an evening of fun. She decided to stay home.
“Take the person’s hand next to you,” she said to the audience. “Hold onto it, this isn’t a joke.”
That hand, your friend’s hand, could be the same one you find scattered on the highway.
“That could be the consequence of your actions behind the wheel.”
As her four friends drove that night, Dec. 13, following each other in two vehicles, her friend Jackie clipped a parked vehicle on the side of the highway. He was going 90 mph.
Jackie died in the wreck and his female passenger was thrown 75 feet into the street. She survived, but underwent surgeries and physical therapy.
“Don’t think you are invincible because it will lead to a lifetime of regret,” she said.
Students acted out a fatal crash scene with the help of Payson fire and police to drive home the point.
CELEBRATE MY DRIVE
To participate in Celebrate My Drive
Log onto www.celebratemydrive.com
• Indicate you want to support Payson High School
• Commit to drive safely
• You can make a safe driving commitment once a day, every day, between Oct. 18 and 26. The more safe driving commitments made, the better chance of winning a grant for the school.