Manitou Maintains Streak of Best Drive Smart Campaign

Aubrey Hall, Photography Editor

In the fall of 2015, Manitou Springs High School student council members were hard at work on their annual Drive Smart campaign, which urges students to drive and ride responsibly. This year’s theme was distracted driving. Along with the usual aspects of Manitou’s campaign, newer additions this year that were deemed notable by the competition’s judges included a banner of last words, on which students wrote the last text they sent and were asked if they were comfortable with that text being their last words, as well as a banner hanging above Manitou Avenue.

On Wednesday afternoon, January 27, the work of several of these students was recognized at the Colorado Drive Smart Challenge Award Ceremony. For several years, Manitou’s Student Council has won the title of Best Overall Campaign, a streak that they continued to maintain this year. “I think the win is just a way of validating all of our hard work,” said Student Body President Mahalia Henschel, “Especially this year with all the hoops we had to jump through and the reaction from the student body. With the new view of how Drive Smart needed to be run from administration, we really had to get creative, and it was not easy. As a council, we worked really hard and spent so much time putting together the best campaign we could. So in the end, it is not about winning, it is about making an impact. Winning again is really just the cherry on top.”

In addition to winning the award for best overall campaign at a small school, as well as the award for most video shorts, two Manitou students, Aubrey Hall (10) and Mia Elliott (12), were given awards by McDivitt Law Firm for a 30 second PSA on the topic of distracted driving, in addition to several hundred dollars given to their school. Elliott, who directed and filmed not only this year’s PSA, but last year’s as well, was unsure of what to expect going into this year’s award ceremony. “I definitely had an unspoken standard set for myself after winning first place last year,” said Elliott, “But I can’t say I expected we’d win a second time in a row.”

Elliott said she feels that the PSA aspect of Drive Smart in particular makes the issue more accessible to a wider audience. “For myself,” she said, “The win is not only an achievement to brag about for a short while in allusion to the last victory, but I feel it’s a reminder that it is entirely possible to make a subject like safe driving more approachable through film. It’s especially very validating to know this after being judged by a table of adults- from a law firm, at that.”

Manitou’s Student Council plans to continue its participation in Drive Smart, raising awareness of the issue among the student body for years to come. The PSA is set to be featured on television throughout Southern Colorado starting on February 1.