Tartan seeks community support for safe driving campaign

Tartan students hope to win one of nearly 100 grants for their school through participation in a national safe driving campaign.

A group of Tartan High School students are hard at work promoting a safe driving campaign that they hope will bring the school some national attention, as well as a sizeable grant.  But they need your help.

Over 50 students in the school's SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) program are heading an effort to get drivers of all ages to make a commitment to safe driving, particularly teens who lack experience behind the wheel.

The Center For Disease Control reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens ages 16-19. Ellie McCarty,

Tartan's SADD advisor and school alcohol and drug counselor, said around 1,100 of Tartan's 1,700 students are driving­—that number she says includes students with driver's permits.

Tartan is one of 3,285 U.S. high schools participating in Celebrate My Drive, during National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 15-24.  Celebrate My Drive is a safe driving campaign sponsored by State Farm Insurance that encourages teen drivers to make sound driving choices, such as "2N2" -- two eyes on the road, two hands on the wheel.

Starting on Oct. 15, the public can support Tartan by making a safe driving commitment by logging onto celebratemydrive.com and indicating their support for Tartan High School. The process takes less than a minute, and can be repeated once per day by anyone, ages 14 and up, over the 10-day period.

The top 100 high schools with the most commitments will split $3.25 million in grants. Individual grants range from $25,000 to $100,000. The top two schools win their own concert by The Band Perry.

"If we're going to do this we should be in it to win it," McCarty said. "It's like the saying: 'Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you'll end up in the stars.'"

SADD members are rallying to get the word out to support Tartan. They have been using social media, the press, and the local business community to garner support. SADD board members met with the Oakdale Business and Professional Association recently, and managed to get the support of 30 local businesses that are encouraging employees to make daily safe driving commitments online and pledge their support for Tartan.

SADD president Sara Giese says she has been working on the campaign an average of 15 hours per week since the second week of school. SADD members take safe driving and this campaign seriously.

"Getting your license is a big accomplishment that comes with a lot of responsibility," the 17-year-old senior says. "The focus [of the campaign] is on 2N2, which includes not texting, drinking and driving, being aware with the goal of being totally focused on driving."

Giese says SADD participated in Celebrate My Drive last year, but caught wind of it late, just a couple of weeks before it began so they didn't have much time to prepare. This year the group of students initiated efforts right away. SADD's eight board members have been meeting with local State Farm insurance agent Amy Brown to discuss ways the group can market themselves to gain the public's support.

Brown says the company decided to shine a bigger light on the campaign this year and she feels Tartan has a good shot at winning a prize, noting that they did well last year and had not put in near the effort they have so far this fall.

"The grant money and top prizes are going to go to some schools. Why not ours?" she asks. "The goal is to create as much excitement as possible. We need people to spread the word and get as many people as we can to vote for Tartan."

Giese says her group will be using social media to get the word out. SADD members will also promote Tartan's Celebrate My Drive campaign on the school and district websites, through word of mouth, and banners placed along Tenth Street North near the school.

To support Tartan's Celebrate My Drive campaign during National Safety Week, visit celebratemydrive.com, make a commitment to safe driving and indicate your support for Tartan High School.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.


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