VALPARAISO — Three Porter County high school students worked this week with a professional film crew producing public service announcements they wrote about distracted driving.

All three, video production students at the Porter County Career and Technical Center, were finalists in the National Road Safety Foundation's Drive Safe Chicago PSA contest.

The completed PSAs will be posted online where viewers can vote for their favorite. The winner will receive a $2,000 prize from the NRSF and the winner will be announced at the Chicago Auto Show. The winning PSA will appear on more than 220 TV stations nationwide.

The finalists are Payton Ball, 18, from Wheeler High School, Mackenzie Taulbee, 17, of Kouts High School, and Hannah Christy, 17, of Boone Grove High School.

The students worked Monday and Tuesday with producer Alan Weiss and his film crew to produce the 30-second videos.

Christy's video takes up the issue of driving while tired and tells the story of a girl who stayed up late to study, gets up early and falls asleep driving the next morning.

Christy said this was the first script she has written, but was familiar with scripts from participating in the Boone Grove High School Drama Department.

Christy said she learned a lot working with professionals who gave her a lot of guidance but also allowed her to give input on the direction of the video.

Weiss said producing the PSAs with teens is fun, but challenging because they're still learning the basics of not only writing and producing, but acting as well.

Career Center video production teacher said he used the contest as an assignment to give his students a chance to create a concept and write a script.

Students in the video production classes learn a variety of skills, including coverage of live sporting events, production of short films and even the production of music videos.

He said this project encourages writing and collaboration, skills needed to take their education in the field to the next level.

Ball spent Tuesday producing a video the depicts a boyfriend and girlfriend arguing while driving. He said most teens understand the dangers of texting and driving, but he hopes to convey the message there are other types of distracted driving that are equally dangerous.

Ball has learned many aspects of video production, but his favorite is doing play-by-play announcing for sports. He said his work at the Career Center has already allowed him to work along side professional sports reporters and he has gotten real-world experience from an internship with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.

Porter County students have fared well in the contest. The winner of Drive Safe Chicago last year was Abigail Evans, then a senior at Washington Township High School in Porter County. Rachel Diaz, of Portage, and a student at Porter County Career Center in Valparaiso, won the first Drive Safe Chicago contest in 2015.

For more information about about the Drive Safe Chicago Contest, go to www.nrsf.org/teenlane/content/drive-safe-chicago.

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