January 30 Beaver Area juniors and seniors were dismissed during second period for an assembly. The only thing that students knew before stepping into the auditorium was that the assembly would be about distracted driving.
A fellow Bobcat, senior Abby Kohrmann, was actually the brains behind this assembly.
Kohrmann had a project assigned to her in Ms. Firmani’s English class that had Kohrmann interview and learn someone’s story.
After discussing the assignment with her parents, Kohrmann’s dad suggested that she talk to one of his coworkers, Michelle Johnson.
Johnson is a spokesperson for the Impact Teen Drivers organization. This organization is a nonprofit that intends to help teen drivers reduce their risk of being in a car accident—especially those caused by inexperienced decision making and distractions.
So Thursday morning, Johnson presented an informational and emotional keynote to Beaver Area’s inexperienced, young drivers.
The presentation started with Johnson asking students for examples of what they think would be considered lethal. The students answered the question by saying things like drugs, guns, and alcohol. Then Johnson went on to explain that simple tasks such as putting on lipstick and eating can be lethal when a person is operating a moving vehicle. She wanted to reinforce the point that any sort of distracted driving can cause an accident or even death.
Johnson also presented to the students many statistics about the dangers of teen driving. For example, she stated that almost 4,000 teenagers are killed every year by distracted driving, and auto accidents are more common among young people than any other age group.
After that, Johnson hit the audience with a powerful appeal to the students’ emotions. Johnson played a video about an actual teenage car accident and the people who were affected by reckless driving. The video consisted of a real story about five teenagers who got in a wreck which resulted in multiple injuries and the death of one of their friends. The accident was caused because of an immature and preventable reason, but it still happened.
Once the video was over, Johnson showed the juniors and seniors a “death wheel.” The death wheel calculated the probably that a person would get in a wreck depending on the conditions they were driving in.
Johnson also explained the Pennsylvania laws that protect teenaged drivers.
Finally, Johnson moved onto one last video about another young adult accident that resulted in a death. The video was about a boy named Connor who tragically died in a car crash. The video displayed the ways that Connor’s accident could have been prevented and how his loved ones dealt with losing him.
But the assembly’s most powerful moment came once the video was over: Johnson reintroduced herself as Connor’s mom and shared her story.
Because of her son’s horrible death, Johnson now speaks for Impact Teen Drivers and founded the Connor Johnson Memorial Foundation. Johnson speaks at schools, speaking engagements, trainings for law enforcement, and another opportunities that she is invited to to spread the word about safe driving.
“Michelle’s passion for this cause allows her to translate this message into one that impacts the hearts and minds of her audiences wherever she may be presenting,” said Kohrmann.