Fort Mill High School sophomore Ryann Katz is the local winner in a statewide essay contest designed to discourage distracted driving.
The contest, sponsored by the South Carolina Press Association and AT&T, asked students to write an essay or create a video promoting the “It Can Wait” pledge. Local winners were judged against their peers by the SCPA to pick an S.C. winner.
“Texting while driving is a statewide problem, and we hope this can bring some education to the young people in our state,” said SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers.
Max Bodach, a sophomore from Bishop England High School on Daniel Island, was named the first-place winner in the essay contest. He will receive a $500 cash prize, underwritten by AT&T.
The statewide “It Can Wait” video contest resulted in a tie for first place between a Rock Hill student and a team from Brookland-Cayce High School. Joshua Dantzler, a sophomore from South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, was recognized with a first-place award for his compelling video, which was told as an apology letter from a crash victim to his parents.
Brookland-Cayce High School junior David Capers and seniors Nicholas Jeffcoat and Franklin Harris also placed first for their upbeat team-produced video that prompts students to put their phones down while behind the wheel.
Both Dantzler and the Brookland-Cayce team will receive a $250 cash prize, underwritten by AT&T.
Katz’s essay, titled “A Voice of Their Own,” follows:
Working, always working, it never stops. Remembering, always trying to remember, that never stops either. From the day the body below me formed we started functioning, learning, exploring, and storing information that later would be forgotten. We are always processing words, visions, ideas, and thoughts.
We each have a job, something we do to work together as a team. My name is Cade and my job, as the Cerebellum, is balance and movement. I make sure the body stays upright and that my friends stay happy and the environment stays balanced. I usually work with Parker, the Parietal lobe, who also works with movement, and Buster the brain stem, who sends signals of movement for us. My other friends are Faye the Frontal lobe, she can be very emotional and is always thinking which is why Tori the Temporal lobe hates her job of memory, perception, and of course speech which involves her receiving thoughts from Faye.
Then there’s Olan, the Occipital lobe, who works with everyone and tells all what he sees and we process it together as a team. I think we make a pretty good team, but sometimes we mess up and make mistakes, most of the time it’s Parker. He has a hard job supervising movement and recognition. Olan loves his job more than anyone else. All day he sits and looks out those windows and tells us whatever he sees. He tells Parker and I where to go and what signals we need to send to Buster to send out to the rest of the body. Buster is pretty good at his job as well. As a brainstem he just tells us what the nerves tell him and we tell him what to tell the nerves.
“The phone says, ‘Where are you?’ ” Olan tells us.
“Don’t answer that!” Faye tells Parker and I.
“Come on, it’s just one text,” we argue back.
“Olan, focus on the road again” Tori requests, “and don’t even think about answering the text, Cade, I’ve got too much on my hands with driving right now.” Tori goes back to focus on driving as we tell Buster to move the hands and what to answer, but those were the last words we ever spoke to Buster. Parker and I kept telling him what to do but he didn’t answer and he wouldn’t tell us what the nerves told him. That day and all of the ones after were silent. Olan stopped seeing amazing things through the windows other than a pale 10-foot by 10-foot room. We processed words and tried to understand what was happening. We processed “car crash,” “weak,” “antibiotics,” “legs,” “family” and lastly the one word that gave us the answer that we were hoping not for, “paralyzed.”
This story is just one of the many unfortunate possibilities that can happen as a result of texting while driving. So take the pledge to never text and drive, at ItCanWait.com.
The winning essay, videos and student photos are available at scpress.org/ItCanWait.