CMS students win national award for video

Two students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have created a video warning against texting while driving that won the grand prize in a national contest sponsored by Toyota and Discovery Education. The video, titled "It's Not Fine," was created by Providence senior Kirklin "Mack" Hopkins and Levine senior Kellen Stadler.

"It's Not Fine," which shows the fatal consequences of texting and driving, will be commercially produced for use as a Public Service Announcement (PSA) nationwide. In addition, the two students will share a cash prize of $15,000. Their video was chosen from nearly 1,300 submissions by students across the country by a panel of judges that included parents, educators and representatives from Toyota and Discovery Education.

"We are very proud of the powerful video storytelling by Mack and Kellen," said Dr. Clayton Wilcox, superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. "It drives home the dangers of texting and driving in a dramatic, effective way. As a national PSA, it could save lives by showing what happens when you text and drive."

Mack plans to attend UNC School of the Arts and wants to work in television production. He gained his winning skills with video in a fine arts program at Providence.

"The driver-safety video by Mack and Kellen is professional, resolute and a great example of how teens can influence their peers and others," said Dr. Tracey Harrill, principal at Providence.  "We are very proud of their work to communicate that 'it's not fine' to text and drive."

Kellen also plans to attend UNC School of the Arts and will study filmmaking.

"All of us in CMS are very proud that our students' work has been nationally recognized," said Joey Burch, principal at Levine. "By showing the tragic consequences of texting and driving, the video impresses the need for safety on everyone."

The two students were surprised with the announcement that they'd won the top prize on May 22 during a morning assembly at Providence High.

"TeenDrive365 strikes a chord with teens as role models. Peer-to-peer influence is a powerful tool to engage teens in driver safety conversations, said Kristin Hirst, vice president of corporate education partnerships, Discovery Education. "We applaud this year's grand prize winners Mack and Kellen for their use of immersive storytelling, creativity and authenticity to positively influence others and ultimately help save lives."

The competition is part of Toyota and Discovery Education's TeenDrive365 initiative (TeenDrive365.com), a comprehensive educational resource to provide educators, parents and teens with critical safe driving materials. The initiative builds on programs Toyota has offered for more than a decade, offering classroom resources, online tools, expert advice and tips to help teens understand the dangers of distracted driving. 

Click on the links to learn more about TeenDrive365 and Discovery Education.