By Amanda Crowl, Features Editor
“The next time you think about texting and driving, think about how it could affect someone else’s life. Think about how it could affect your life,” Saegertown sophomore Josie Deeter wrote in her award-winning poem for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA) “It Can Wait” editorial contest.
The contest, sponsored through a partnership between PNA, PNA member newspapers, and AT&T, asks high school students to write a column or editorial that best answers the question, “Why is it important to take the ‘It Can Wait’ pledge to drive distraction-free?”
Deeter’s poem was one of 165 entries from across the state. In each community a winner was recognized, however, only one state-wide winner was chosen. That winner was Josie Deeter.
In a press release from PNA, executive director Melinda Condon, wrote: “judges commented, ‘Josie’s writing stood out for her succinct use of words to convey a dramatic message. Her poetic work is worthy of recognition for making a simple – yet powerful – point of how one act, one second, one text can change everything.’” Deeter will receive a $500 cash prize for her work.
Saegertown journalism adviser Stacey Hetrick, who learned that Deeter was the winner on March 16, the first day of the school shutdown, was thrilled with the news: “We have been entering this contest for the past several years, and I had a special feeling that this would be the year someone from our staff would win,” Hetrick said. “I am so proud of Josie, and her recognition is definitely a bright spot for all of us during the COVID-19 shutdown.” Deeter’s mother Erica added: “We are very proud of Josie and her hard work! We are also impressed with her writing and accomplishments.”
The Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, founded in 1925, is a non-profit corporation which educates people about the First Amendment and the press. They have been hosting the “It Can Wait” editorial contest since 2015.
“It Can Wait” is a national movement urging drivers to visit http://www.ItCanWait.com, where they can pledge to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phone, and share their pledges via Twitter (#ItCanWait) and Facebook.
Since its launch in 2010, the campaign has inspired more than 39 million pledges not to text and drive. “It’s so critically important that students don’t drive distracted, and Josie’s poem powerfully emphasizes how quickly things can go wrong if you don’t pay attention,” Hetrick said.
As for Deeter, she noted that she will be saving the cash award for her future education. “I’m very happy about my achievement, and I’m glad that I wrote the piece that I did,” Deeter said. “I started writing whatever came to my mind, but then I decided to make it a little bit different than just writing a paragraph. I really wanted to write something that would stand out from a normal essay.” Deeter is a first-year staff writer for The Panther Press, Saegertown’s newsmedia.
For more information about PNA, and to view the full list of statewide winners of the 2020 Student Keystone Press Awards, visit panewsmedia.org.
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School