BRADFORD — Noah Hamilton became $500 richer Tuesday during an assembly at Bradford High School.
Hamilton’s design was chosen as the winning art for a billboard contest, emphasizing the dangers of texting and driving. His art was the winner, out of about 40 Miami County High School students. As a result, the students were treated to an assembly and a pizza party. The contest was sponsored by the Miami County Safe Communities, Miami County Public Health, State Farm, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and other police jurisdictions throughout the county, according to Bradford Junior High/High School Principal Matt Triplett. Triplett said the competition allowed students a more in-depth look at the importance of driving without distractions. They had to research some of the statistics and see some of the pictures of damaged cars that have been wrecked, he said.
“Noah’s award is great, but the message is even bigger about driving without distractions,” Triplett told the students during the assembly. “That is very important in the high school years, with some of you driving already or getting ready to get your license. It is very important that you have your eyes and your mind on the road.”
Bradford High School Teacher Sharon Moore teaches computer, personal finance classes and a publication class. She said she heard about the contest through a newspaper article she had read in the summer. Her publication class students each created art on “Google Slides,” and Moore entered their submissions. Her class is about 16 students, comprised of sophomores through seniors.
“I wanted then to get more involved with the community, and to learn about safe driving,” she said.
Health Educator and Safe Communities Coordinator with Miami County Safe Communities and Miami County Public Health Vicky Knisley-Henry said the contest was funded by State Farm. In addition to the winner’s $500, the participating counties received a $2,500 grant. The Miami County Safe Communities Coalition voted on the submissions, giving Hamilton the most votes. Knisley-Henry said it’s the first year for the contest. Without guidelines, students created their own ideas of teen driver safety messages, she said.
Hamilton said it took him about 30 minutes to decide what might get peoples’ attention on a billboard, including using bright yellow and a crashed vehicle.
“Winning was definitely a big surprise,” Hamilton said. “It feels very rewarding to win. I had forgotten about the contest, until I saw the Sheriff and State Farm walk into my class with a big check saying that I won.”
“The submissions were awesome,” Knisley-Henry said. “We are hoping the word will get around and more students will want to participate. They get to feel more like they have a choice and it’s not just adults telling them, ‘Don’t speed’ or ‘Buckle up’.”
Lisa Cano, owner of the State Farm Agency in Troy said it was interesting, that most of the contest submissions revolved around texting and not drinking.
“Generationally we were thinking it would be a lot more of the drinking and driving, but these guys are aware that it is the texting and driving,” she said. “They know that.”
Bradford School Board member Scott Besecker said he is grateful and thankful that Hamilton was recognized.
“This is a great kid and he did a great job,” he said. “I am very proud of him and the fact that out of all the schools in Miami County, a young man from Bradford did a great job in getting a very, very important message across.”
While the contest was fun to win, Hamilton said the message is serious.
“Definitely do not text and drive,” Hamilton said. “When people text and drive, teens are doing it more than adults. It seems like they are always texting their friends. It can wait.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 3,477 lives in 2015.
“Texting is the most alarming distraction,” www.nhtsa.gov said. “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
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