Peyton Percle wants everyone in St. Charles Parish to stop texting while they drive.
After seeing three of her Hahnville High School classmates spend time in the hospital last year when they were hit by a texting driver and watching Oprah’s “No Phone Zone” show, Percle was moved to take action.
“It really hit close to home…those three boys are in my class, they’re in my grade,” Percle said. “I thought that them being in an accident could cause kids my age to think about what could happen, whether it’s us texting or someone else doing it and harming us.”
As part of the English IV curriculum, high school seniors are required to complete a senior project that showcases their research, communication and management skills. Percle decided to focus her project on educating her community and classmates about the dangers of texting while driving.
First, she did research on the dangers of texting while driving and how complete focus and attention are required to safely drive.
She found an interactive game online that simulates texting while driving and arranged to have 10 computers available at HHS for her classmates to play the game on during lunch.
“Hundreds came to play – I couldn’t even breathe in the library because there were so many people trying to play,” she said. She said even Treval Dunmiles, who was hit by a texting driver last year, stopped by the library to have a turn playing the game.
The game can be found by visiting www.nytimes.com and searching “Driven to distraction.”
Next, she created a public service announcement featuring scenes from the mock texting wreck that Destrehan High School held. She worked with parish officials to have the announcement aired on the public access channel.
Now she’s opening her project up to the public and trying to get as many people as she can to sign a petition promising not to text and drive.
“I need to get people around here to stop texting while they drive,” Percle said.
Her petition is available to sign at Tiger Town Gifts, 12225 Highway 90 in Luling. She will also have a table set up during the HHS lunch cycle for her classmates to sign the petition. So far, she has about 120 signatures.
“I really feel like I’m influencing people,” she said.
Joette Sirmon is in charge of senior projects for the school district. She said the project is designed to be a compilation of the skills a student has learned throughout their entire school career. The student must do research, write an eight- to 10-page paper, make a presentation and balance a budget.
“I think that (Percle) was so touched by what happened to her fellow students that she wanted to put out the message…to avoid someone dying because of texting while driving,” Sirmon said of Percle’s project. “It’s really turned into a service project for her.”