Western Dubuque High School Aims to Win Safe Drivers Contest

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

EPWORTH, Iowa - Western Dubuque High School hopes a national competition can help it improve its auditorium and promote safe driving. Western Dubuque is just a few dozen votes away from the top spot in State Farm Insurance's "Celebrate My Drive" competition.

The school that gets the highest number of people to sign a safe driver pledge wins $100,000. Students will also gets a private concert from Grammy winning artist Kelly Clarkson.

Driving is a huge part of the daily lives for Western Dubuque students.
That district in Dubuque County covers more area than any other in the state, a total of 550 square miles. Many students spend more than half an hour behind the wheel each morning just to get to class.

Once at the school, many of the students spend time involved in music and drama groups. Making sure everything sounds OK for a concert is a huge undertaking for high school senior Isaac Ehlers.

"When we do hold performances in here. A lot of the audience can't hear because of the poor acoustics. It was meant to be a gym not an auditorium," Ehlers said.

Work is underway to build a new auditorium, but school officials said they don't have the money to furnish it.

"A grand piano and a sound shell and those are two big ticket items," Dave Hoeger, Western Dubuque Principal, said.

The race is on for students to register for the contest. Students are emailing any driver they can think of to sign the pledge on the school's behalf. Making the safe driving pledge is something the students take very seriously.

"We have students who drive 30 to 40 minutes to come to school. So it's a big part of their school day," Hoeger said.

With so many students behind the wheel on rural, gravel roads, each pledge is a promise.

"A couple large accidents can add up to big dollars in a hurry. So it's well worth State Farms time and effort to save any lives we can," State Farm Agent Rex Massey said.

State Farm is giving $100,000 to all of the top five schools with the most votes. But Kelly Clarkson will only perform for the number one school.

Right now, West Dubuque is neck and neck for first place with a much bigger high school in Danbury, Connecticut.

Voting ends this Saturday at 11:59 p.m. And winners will be posted on Dec. 9. Those interested in voting, click here.
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