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Teens hope to save lives through ‘Taylor’s Story’

Chaparral DECA students produce video to bring attention to driving safety

PARKER – It has been two years since Chaparral High School senior Taylor Llewellyn died in a car accident, but her memory remains strong at the school. A group of students, touched by the tragedy, are hoping to keep Taylor’s story alive, while also helping to save other teen drivers.

Chaparral seniors Alex Lehman, Jacquelin Closs and junior Emily Baller, all members of Chaparral’s DECA marketing club, had the opportunity to produce a short film, which recently premiered and is now being shown in schools across the state and beyond.

The girls say it is not like the typical public service announcements that schools show.

“A lot of safe driving videos are pointed at Don’t Text and Drive, Don’t Drink and Drive, using scare tactics to get their message across,” explained Baller. “This video was a little different. It shows how an accident can personally affect not only the victim of the accident, but also the community as well.”

WATCH: Taylor’s Story

It is unclear what caused the accident that killed Taylor. She slowly drifted across four lanes of traffic, but investigators concluded that there was no evidence that she was texting, speeding or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“I think that one of the things about Taylor’s story that will resonate with every teen that watches it is that she was a good kid and she wasn’t doing anything wrong, that we know of,” said Susan Goldenstein, the manager of prevention education & outreach at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “She was inexperienced, which is a risk for every teen driver.”

“It could happen to anyone,” Closs said. “You need to drive safe because people care about you.”

Earlier this school year, Goldenstein reached out to the girls, whom she had already been working with on a safe driving campaign. She offered them with the opportunity to use funds from a grant with the Colorado Department of Transportation to produce a film, which could be shown in Colorado schools.

“I’m so impressed. They really did the hard part,” Goldenstein said. “We had a professional production company, but the interviews were completely arranged and transcribed by the teens.“

“We were pretty much the project managers,” Closs said with a laugh. “The only thing we didn’t do was the actual editing and producing of the video and filming. And we didn’t pay for it.”

“The experience was really cool for us,” one of the other students said. “To have that responsibility to work with those professionals is really a cool opportunity. And getting to work with professionals in the film industry was really amazing.”

In October, the movie premiered at Chaparral High School. In addition to students, school leaders and state representative Polly Lawrence, the Llewellyn family was in attendance.

“I was a little nervous, especially with Taylor’s family,” Goldenstein said. “We really wanted to honor Taylor’s memory and hopefully influence other kids to make good choices behind the wheel.”

Goldenstein and the Chaparral students say the film was well received. Already, she has taken it on the road to show to classrooms from Highlands Ranch to Northglenn.

“It’s a really neat way for us to share the story of our school, share Taylor’s legacy and also share safe driving across the community,” Baller said.

RELATED STORY: Chaparral Students Launch Safe Driving Campaign

December 7, 2016 | By rmbarber | Category:

District News

graduates standing in line outside, smiling

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Graduation rates in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) continue to climb. Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) shows the on-time, four-year graduation rate is now 90.4 percent.

DCSD students also made an impressive showing at graduation. The class of 2017 earned more than $82 million in scholarships.

DCSD has one of the highest graduation rates in the Denver metro area. According to CDE, DCSD graduation rates have risen steadily from 81.9 percent in 2009 to 90.4 percent in 2017.

Five female students standing on stage smiling and laughing at the awards ceremony

The top two-percent of female athletes in Douglas County School District (DCSD) were honored at the annual Girls and Women in Sports Luncheon last week at Chaparral High School. This year represented the 30th national celebration of Girls and Women in Sports Day, created to encourage and promote the participation of girls in athletics. The girls who were honored were selected by their school’s coaches, athletic directors and principals for their outstanding achievements.

Superintendent Search text based logo

Working through the recent winter break, the Douglas County School District Board of Education has kicked off its search for DCSD’s next permanent superintendent. Following a thorough vetting of potential search firms, Ray & Associates (no relation to Board Director David Ray) has been hired to conduct the national search. The cost of the firm, excluding travel expenses, is $40,000. The money will come from the school board's budget, which is used for costs such as legal expenses and conferences.