East Alabama high school leadership conference takes "The Pledge"

The Don't Text and Drive campaign reached students from more than 20 east Alabama high schools Wednesday.

About 450 members of student councils and student government associations attended a leadership conference at Jacksonville State University.

Guest speakers included ABC 33/40's Ebony Hall and Charles Daniel, who talked to the students about some of the accidents caused by distracted driving.{}

They also showed videos about texting and driving, including a story by Sheri Falk about the death of an area teenager who died while having a texting conversation on the road.

"I've heard stories about people texting and driving, but...the videos we saw today were more emotional," Weaver student Taylor Harris said.

Every student at the conference had the opportunity to sign a form, pledging that they will put their phones away when they get behind the wheel.

"After watching the videos, seeing how emotional it is, and how it can really ruin someone's life, I feel like I should take the pledge," Piedmont student Hanna Bedwell said.

Smiths Station student Chandler Henderson eagerly slapped an "I took the pledge" sticker on his chest.

"I put my sticker on because I am for the pledge and I don't think anybody should text and drive because they could harm other people," Henderson said.

Many of the students admitted to texting while driving.{} Several texted during the presentation, but hopefully got the wake up call.

"It is definitely something I'm dropping," Southside student Cam West said.

"You see people text and driving all the time and you don't think 'hey, it could happen to me.'{} I could get in a wreck or hurt somebody else, and it's really eye opening," he said.

Other speakers included a state trooper and a Calhoun County sheriff's deputy.{} They reminded students it's not just dangerous, but against the law.

"I didn't realize it was actually illegal in Alabama.{} I thought it was just that people were against it," Weaver student Morgan Wigley said.

The conference's keynote speaker was lieutenant governor Kay Ivey.{} She talked to the students about the importance of being a leader, and gave advice about the best ways for them to lead others.

They will take those skills back to their schools and work to convince their classmates to also take The Pledge.

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