Taking a STANDD against texting and driving


Anna and Emily Lawrence, 17-year-old twins who attend Kennedy High School in Bellmore, are alike is nearly every way. They certainly look alike. They’re also both leaders in the student government, athletes, and volunteers with a number of school clubs and community organizations. So it isn’t surprising that they think alike when it comes to texting and driving. Just don’t do it, they say.

These teens are doing more than just talk about the potentially deadly practice, though. They’re organizing fellow students in a school-wide campaign that they’re calling STANDD-NY (Stop Texting and Driving-New York) in the hope of eradicating it.

“Kids, parents –– it makes everyone feel comfortable to stop texting” while driving, said Emily in a recent interview at the school.

“People think it’s not going to happen to them,” Anna jumped in, practically finishing her sister’s thought.

On May 21, the sisters held a news conference at Kennedy, attended by local elected leaders like State Assemblyman David McDonough. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano also sent the school a proclamation, declaring May 22 as Stop Texting and Driving Day.

Anna and Emily, both of whom recently received their driver’s licenses, were scheduled to hold a program at Kennedy on June 5 at 7 p.m., after press time, for the entire Bellmore-Merrick community, with guest speaker Karen Torres, who is a presenter for the Texting Awareness Foundation. Her father was killed by a texting cement truck driver while working on Sunrise Highway. The sisters said they hope STANDD-NY spreads throughout the region.

Craig Papach, Kennedy’s athletics director, said he wasn’t surprised that the Lawrence twins were organizing this effort. “I’ve always known them as well-rounded students,” he said. “To create this initiative is awesome. This building needs more things that are student-generated.”

Assistant Principal Gerard Owenburg said, “Both girls have been building leaders…This is indicative of the students.”

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