information for the community

Johnson Senior wins $1,500 for school project celebration

Alexis holds up her winning check in front of the local state farm insurance office.

At 6’1” former Johnson High School volleyball star, Alexis Guillory, is used to drawing attention in a room. But on February 8 it wasn’t her athleticism, height or beauty that drew the attention of judges; it was the confidence with which she delivered her speech on underage drinking at the annual TxDOT Project Celebration Workshop.

In response to a trend of alcohol and drug related deaths at graduation parties hosted by students, high schools statewide have taken to hosting Project Celebrations to give their seniors a venue for safe, substance-free fun on graduation night. The Texas Department of Transportation puts on the workshop each spring giving schools the opportunity to send a senior student representative to compete for the $1,000 grand prize to be used towards the school’s Project Celebration.

This year, 22 high schools competed in presenting on the theme YOLO: You Only Live Once. Seniors were given two minutes to explain how they would remove themselves from a Spring Break party at the beach with a lot of drinking and no supervision. The judges were two police officers, a TxDOT official, the head of the San Antonio DEA, and a PTA member.

Guillory didn’t know what to expect as she waited in a separate room for her name to be called to deliver her speech. The emphasis she chose for her speech replayed over and over in her head as she anticipated speaking in front of so many people.

“We are too powerful to be defeated or overcome by disaster….we are invincible.” This idea of invincibility is something we see all too often in news reports right next to a picture of a teenager who has died in an accident, this notion of, “I know it happens but it can’t happen to me.”

By getting into the mindset of most teenagers, Guillory believes that the relatable nature of her speech helped her to win first place. She was still very humble about her victory. “I didn’t really expect to win,” said Alexis. “They called 3rd place and it was a girl who seemed so professional and prepared and I thought at that point there was no way I was going to win – but then I did!”

In addition to taking the $1,000 prize back to Johnson, Guillory is also bringing back an additional $500 donated by Betsy Dippo and Mary Ellen Jablonski, two State Farm Agents serving the Johnson High School area. They insure many of the young drivers at Johnson High School and were proud to see that a local teen (and State Farm customer) spoke so eloquently about the reality and consequences of underage drinking.

The collaboration of students, parents, school officials, and law enforcement present at the TxDOT Project Celebration Workshop creates an unforgettable experience for the competing seniors, as did Guillory’s closing lines, “Don’t be a statistic. Be the change. YOLO, You Only Live Once…I want to live!”

Courtesy of Brooklyn Dippo, CSA, LTCP, Agent at State Farm Insurance

Posted on February 24, 2014