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Program aims to keep teens safe on the road

The rock at Thomson High School has been a grieving place for students who have had friends killed in automobile crashes.

"We don't want to see anymore students gathered around that rock to grieve for a friend or friends who have been killed on the highway," said Karen Griffith, director of McDuffie County Partners for Success. "We've seen too much of that in the past two years. It's been heartbreaking for them as students and our community."

Because her office sits directly across the highway from the rock, Mrs. Griffith and staff have seen friends gathered there on too many occasions over the last two years. During that time at least four students, as well as a recent graduate of Thomson High School, have been killed in traffic-related mishaps.

As a result, a special Teen Intervention Program aimed at creating awareness and getting teenagers to focus on safe driving habits will be held in the school auditorium this Friday. The program, which is being sponsored by the McDuffie County Partners for Success, will involve two large sessions of students.

"We can't lose another child," said Stephanie Taylor, who serves as a school social worker at all elementary schools in the county, as well as for sixth graders at Thomson Middle School.

Mrs. Taylor, who works out of the local office of Partners for Success, talked to counselors and school psychologists in an effort to collaborate ideas on how to curtail such tragedies.

The end result was a teen intervention program.

Already, the program has gained the approval of McDuffie County School Superintendent Mark Petersen.

"I'm in full support of the program," Dr. Petersen said. "It sounds like a great program, and I think the boys and girls at Thomson High School will learn much from it."

Dr. Petersen plans on attending one of the two sessions.

Georgia State Patrol Lt. David Cody from the Thomson post also will be speaking during both sessions.

"We have far too many teenagers across our country dying in automobile crashes," Lt. Cody said.

He plans to offer alarming statistics to support his case and to offer ways young drivers can learn better safety habits.

"This is a program about saving lives," Lt. Cody said. "I hope it will be beneficial to all who hear it."

Meanwhile, Mrs. Griffith said officials hope to make the most of their opportunity to reach local teens.

"They need to know that they can make those choices and be in control," she said.

Web posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007

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