In the Driver’s Seat

Jessica Mintz with Principal Kathie Acker
Jessica Mintz with Principal Kathie Acker

When it comes to safe driving, there are those who talk the talk and those who walk the walk. And for the first time in history, texting while driving has overtaken drinking while driving as the number one killer of teens behind the wheel. The message about safe driving is more critical than ever. Suffolk County high school principals recently had to choose just one student from their schools who best advocate for safe driving. It was not an easy task.

Fortunately for Walt Whitman Principal Ms. Kathleen Acker, one student walks it like she talks it, and stands out from the crowd. Senior Jessica Mintz is one of five winners of the Suffolk County Principal’s Association Allstate Safe Driving Activist Award. “I could not wait to nominate Jessica for this award,” said Principal Acker.  “It is a very competitive scholarship, but I knew Jessica had the qualifications to be selected.”

“Jessica has proven to be an exceptional student even among the exceptional students’ group,” said Whitman’s SADD advisor, Ms. Marilyn Mandaro. “Her determination to make a positive change in our community is inspiring and tireless.” As president of her high school organization Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Jessica has long been an advocate for doing what’s right. “I feel honored to receive this award,” said Jessica. “I’ve always advocated for safe driving through SADD and my youth organization at the South Huntington Jewish Center.”

“Jessica is always thinking of ways to get valuable messages out to her peers to keep them safe,” said Ms. Acker. In her quest to get the word out to fellow students, Jessica is very involved in both film and video production, so it’s a natural that Jessica will be attending SUNY Oneonta next fall to study mass communications.

“Jessica encourages students to take a positive peer pressure stance,” said Ms. Mandaro.  “She wants her peers to understand that it is not cool to bully or use drugs or make poor decisions.”  Jessica has been in the spotlight before with her work on the Teen Advisory Board at the South Huntington Library and as a member of Whitman’s Video Yearbook. “I love being involved, helping the community, and giving back,” said Jessica. “Jessica is intelligent, reliable, empathetic, and a born leader,” added Ms. Mandaro. “She is the finest reflection on South Huntington schools that I can imagine.” Principal Acker agreed, noting, “Jessica’s conduct within the school environment and the community is that of a sincere, reliable, and responsible young adult.  Her display of dedication and motivation are attributes that are exemplary in today’s youth.”