Atkins has big plans for $25,000 prize

Atkins has big plans for $25,000 prize
December 11
00:00 2014
Photo by Chanel Davis  Students pose with school and State Farms officials and others.

Simon G. Atkins Academic and Technology High School is $25,000 richer.

State Farm Insurance officials presented the check last week and congratulated Atkins for being one of just 100 high school nationwide to earn one of the company’s Celebrate My Drive grants.

Nearly 3,500 high schools supported the free driver safety and education program. Atkins was among the schools that shined brightest by getting a high percentage of students and others in the community to sign the program’s safe-driving commitment.

Local State Farm agent Donna Jones first brought the idea to school officials. They then vigorously encouraged students to sign up.

“This is something that is important to me especially being an insurance agent and car accidents being the number one cause of death for teenagers, especially in their first year,” Jones said. “I was talking to a friend of mine, Dawn Fleurizard, a client and PTA president at the school. I was sharing with her about this program and how I would love to work with the high schools to bring those resources into our community.”

Principal Joe Childers said the chance for a grant was not the reason the school stood behind campaign.

“When our PTA president first came to us to tell us about Celebrate My Drive, we were really excited because it was a good way to promote safe driving with our students,” he said. “I think it’s probably any high school principals’ worst nightmare to think about something tragic happening with a student in your school.”

Atkins Camels launched an all-out offensive to secure safe driving pledges. Students, parents, faculty and staff encouraged fans at sporting events, including Winston-Salem State University’s Homecoming game, to go to to pledge their support. The law firm of Daggett Shuler, which has long sponsored the Safe and Sober Prom Night pledge program, agreed to join the effort as well.

“It just naturally hit me to ask David Daggett to partner with me. He really has a heart for kids and teen driver safety,” Jones said.

Atkins will use 10 percent of the grant for a teen driver safety program that will include a drunk-driving simulator component.

“This will be incorporated into our health program that all of our freshman and sophomores will take,” Childers said. “Hopefully, it will give us some new resources that every child, as they come to Atkins, will get to use in future years.”

The school plans to use the rest of the money to buy equipment – everything from iPads and Nikon cameras to robotic components – for its engineering, biotechnology and scientific visualization and technology programs.

Jones said she thinks Atkins has what it takes to win Celebrate My Drive’s top prize – $100,000 .

“I think the kids are on fire and when the kids are on fire, amazing things happen. My goal is to support them. I think the kids at Atkins are looking at winning the $100,000,” she said.

A complete list of the 100 winning high schools will be available on on Dec. 15.

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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