Essay contest winner receives check

In March of this year, Monticello was honored when Monticello, turned Drew Central student, Aleigha Burns won the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation's "It can wait" essay contest.
Burns wrote the essay while a student at Monticello in her AP English class. On Wednesday, Nov. 13, Terri Cobb, the executive assistant for the Arkansas Press Association, which sponsors the contest travelled to Monticello to award Burns with the $500 prize money for the contest.
The contest for which Burns took the grand prize was a challenge to Arkansas students ages 14-19 across the state to write an editorial or opinion column highlighting the dangers of distracted driving—and encouraging their peers to take the “It Can Wait” pledge.
Distracted drivers—texting, video chatting or talking selfies while behind the wheel—are dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2016, driver distraction was the cause of 3,450 fatal crashes. Another 500,000 or so people were hurt.
Despite knowing the risks of distracted driving, more than 40 percent of teens admitted to such behavior. There is an opportunity to change this behavior, however—and this is where this contest could help.
Ninety percent of teen drivers say they would stop if a friend in the car asked them and 57 percent say that they are likely not to text and drive if friends tell them it is wrong.
The editorial or opinion column needed to answer the question, “Why is it important to take the ‘It Can Wait’ pledge to never drive distracted?” The piece should have highlighted the dangers of smartphone distracted driving and must have included the following call to action, “Take the pledge to never drive distracted at ItCanWait.com.”
The annual contest begins in September. Those interested in entering should watch the Advance’s editorial page for this year’s start date. Teachers and students may also contact editor@monticellonews.net or 870-367-5325 for more information.

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