A high school freshman from Yorba Linda is the grand prize winner of the third annual “Drive Smart: No Distractions, No Excuses” teen digital short contest, the CTIA Wireless Foundation announced Wednesday.
CTIA Wireless Foundation Executive Director Athena Polydorou traveled to El Dorado High School to recognize 14-year-old Zachary Cooper and present him with a scholarship worth $10,000.
One of the semifinalists in the nationwide contest, which coincides with Distracted Driving Awareness Month, is also from Orange County. Minh-Khoi Le attends Fountain Valley High School.
Through a partnership with the educational company By Kids For Kids, the nonprofit foundation created the Drive Smart campaign to inspire teens to create compelling digital shorts to discourage their peers — and adults — from distracted driving.
Zachary’s digital short was selected from among hundreds of submissions from students across the country.
“I wanted to make a difference, however small, in how teens regard texting and driving. I hopefully I make at least a few realize that no text message or notification is worth putting yourself and others in danger,” he said.
“This contest is important because 11 percent of the drivers involved in fatal car accidents are teens. When I start driving in two years, I’ll know so much more about driving safely than I would have known if I hadn’t participated.”
The teen’s teacher and mentor, Mark Switzer, received $1,000.
“Zach is a first-year student in our Digital Media Arts Academy film program at El Dorado High School. He’s only a ninth-grader, and all of the work I have seen from him so far shows great promise. I think he has the potential to become an outstanding filmmaker,” Switzer said.
“The video production students in Zach’s class all participated in the Drive Smart Contest this past December, which I felt was a great opportunity for them to learn about a worthwhile cause while practicing their filmmaking skills,” Switzer added.
Two runners-up were each awarded $5,000 scholarships, and semifinalists each won $1,000 scholarships. Each teacher/mentor of a runner-up or a semifinalist received $500 and $250, respectively.
Five judges — all senior executives from the wireless, automotive and advertising industries — evaluated entries based on creativity, communicative effectiveness and potential impact on teens, according to the CTIA Wireless Foundation.
—City News Service
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