Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School Students Receive National Honor for Safety Video

Jun 08, 2010, 16:16 ET from National Network of Digital Schools

Original video takes top spot in Ford Motor Company competition

MIDLAND, Pa., June 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Four students from the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School have taken first place in a national competition sponsored by Ford Motor Company to promote safe driving behaviors among teens.

Amber Ardolino, Chalisse Monroe, Levi Keller, and Trey Singletary, all juniors, wrote, performed, produced, and recorded an original music video, "Drive Safely." It was made a finalist through public voting on the Internet from among scores of entries from all over the United States, then chosen as the winner by pop singer-songwriter-actress Kate Voegele.

The honor was announced Tuesday, June 8, by Voegele along with officials from Ford Motor Company Fund at a surprise student assembly at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Midland. KDKA TV traffic and transportation reporter Jim Lokay served as emcee. Voegele performed two of her original songs for assembled students.

The fact the Lincoln Park students had won was a closely guarded secret, with only top school officials and parents informed ahead of time. Students, including the four winners, thought they were attending a simple driving safety assembly on Tuesday morning. After screening a standard safety video, Lokay announced the Lincoln Park students had won the nationwide contest.

"This is an incredible honor for Amber, Trey, Chalisse, and Levi – and very much deserved," said Rebecca Manning, CEO of the Lincoln Park Charter School. "They took the initiative on this, they got it done, and I'm so happy to see their efforts and talents being recognized in such a grand and public way."

The national "Belt it Out" competition, part of the Ford Driving Skills for Life program, began in October of last year when soloists and small bands were invited to submit song videos that promote safe driving by teenagers. More than 100,000 votes were cast by the public via the Web to select the top five submissions. From those, Voegele selected the top three most creative and effective songs to receive first, second and third places. For taking first place, each of the four Lincoln Park students received a $5,000 savings bond.

"Music is such a great outlet and this gives teens a chance to create their own music about something important in their lives," Voegele said. "I am doing this to encourage people my age to stay focused on their future and to understand the importance of their own driving behaviors."

Voegele, 23, noted she is not much older than the young people at the performing arts school. She called herself "just a kid from Cleveland" to whom entertainment industry success came as "a total surprise."

"You really can do anything with the talent that you have," she told the assembly of 500 Lincoln Park students, adding, "I loved my high school, but I would have killed to go to a high school like this."

The song in the video was written by Chalisse Monroe. The video was shot at Lincoln Park in February with Amber Ardolino singing the song's pop-rock melody, joined on vocals by Monroe. Trey Singletary sings a rap segment and Levi Keller plays guitar.

All four sets of parents - Monroe's parents, Ken and Charlette Horton of Pittsburgh; Ardolino's mother, Jodie Hamilton of Beaver Falls; Singletary's parents Will and Nicole Singletary of Aliquippa; and Keller's parents Darren and Sally Keller of Mars – attended the assembly.

"We were told about it last night," said Nicole Singletary. "It was really hard to keep it a secret."

Manning said this recognition is shared by the faculty and staff of Lincoln Park, who teach performing arts at a very high level.

"Our goal is to create an environment in which our students become critical thinkers, creative problem solvers, and have the knowledge, skills, and attitude needed to work collaboratively. These are the skills needed in the 21st century, and I know we are helping to position our students to not only be contributors, but leaders in society."

Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School opened in 2006, providing excellent academic classes for 500 students from 50 school districts in western Pennsylvania. Students in grades 8-12 receive pre-professional training in music, dance, theater, media arts, creative writing and health sciences. The school is hosted by the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, a regional cultural and entertainment facility.

Contact Fred Miller, communications coordinator, National Network of Digital Schools, 724.643.9004 ext. 1377.

SOURCE National Network of Digital Schools