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Wakefield High School’s JUST THINK FIRST Program brings award winning, NY Times best-selling author, Ellen Hopkins, to campus on Thursday, September 4th.

For Immediate Release
August 22, 2104
Wakefield High School, Raleigh, NC

Wakefield High School’s JUST THINK FIRST Program brings award winning, NY Times best-selling author, Ellen Hopkins,to campus on Thursday, September 4th.

Ellen Hopkins is the award-winning author of twenty non-fiction titles and nine NY Times best-selling young adult novels-in-verse, plus two adult novels. She has published hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from aviation to child abuse to wine-growing. Many readers are familiar with her recent books including Crank, which is based on her own daughter’s tale of addiction to crystal
meth. Ellen mentors other writers through her position as a regional adviser for the Nevada Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She is a regular speaker at schools, book festivals and writers’ conferences across the US, and now throughout the world.

In 2012, Ellen founded Ventana Sierra, Inc., a 501(3)(c) organization whose mission is to help disadvantaged youth gain safe housing and begin working toward career goals through higher education, vocational training and the arts. Ms. Hopkins has won many awards for her writing including the Kentucky Bluegrass Award, the Pacific Northwest Young Reader’s Choice Award, and the Nevada Governor’s Arts Award. She has worked with numerous writer groups and her employment history is very diverse as it relates to the writing field. She has been a freelance writer, short story author, poet and journalist. She has also served as editor of the Northern Nevada Family Magazine.

Ellen was born March 26, 1955 in Long Beach, CA and adopted at birth by an older couple. Albert Wagner, her father, was 72 at the time; Valeria, her mother, was 42. She grew up in Palm Springs, in a neighborhood with movie stars and entertainment icons, including Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, Kirk Douglas and Arnold Palmer. She says her family was the “poor rich.” Her father made his
money in the steel industry in WWII and she remembers when he earned his first million dollars. As a poor immigrant child who was a self-made man with a 6th grade education, she says he couldn’t have been prouder.

Ellen learned from her father the value of hard work and honesty, and from her mother, she learned a love of language and reading. Her mother loved literature and read to her every day; she had Ellen reading chapter books before she entered kindergarten. Ellen was a straight A student in school and from the time she knew how to put words on paper, she was always writing something.

Ellen Hopkins will speak to Tony Calabria’s Young Adult Literature class at Wakefield HS in a closed setting from 8:45 – 9:45 on Thursday, September 4th. At 10:00 a.m. she will do a presentation and reading for students in the school media center, followed by a book signing. Her most popular books will be offered at a 20% discount during pre-sales prior to September 4th at Wakefield.

For more information on Ellen Hopkins’ visit to Wakefield High School contact:
Tony Calabria, teacher – acalabria@wcpss.net
William Kline, media coordinator – 919.562.3638 – wkline@wcpss.net
Dr. Vivian Wells, administrator – 919.562.3606 – vcwells@wcpss.net

Wakefield High School Wins $25,000 Grant from State Farm Insurance Company

Wakefield High School
2200 Wakefield Pines Drive
Raleigh, NC 27614
November 18, 2013

Tripp Crayton, Principal of Wakefield High School, says it every day on the announcements; and Wakefield students have gotten used to hearing it now…IT’S ALL ABOUT THE W! When you think about what that statement might mean, State Farm’s Celebrate My Drive Contest the school entered this fall, is an example. The contest ended October 26th and Wakefield was a big winner. The contest afforded the Wakefield community an opportunity to come together and compete for a grant, going up against other high schools (several thousand of them) from all across the US. Students, parents, faculty, family, and friends joined together to not only try and do something great for their school, but also in support of a cause that is very near and dear to their hearts.

Screen shot 2There are not many high schools around that have gone through the trauma Wakefield did, when back in 1996, they lost 9 students to driving accidents in less than 18 months time. Today’s society forces young people into the adult arena all too often, and at times, the choices they make can be the difference in a life or death situation. Wakefield’s JUST THINK FIRST Program began after that horrific year, and since 1996, has come to have a real presence in the school.
Screen shot 3JUST THINK FIRST addresses the societal ills we see our children having to deal with, some of which include violence, sex, drugs, alcohol, gangs, bullying, and unsafe driving behaviors. The intent of the JTF initiative is to provide powerful messages to teens through programs and assemblies, videos and documentaries, displays, PSAs, club activities, community events and more. Personal responsibility and choices students can make when confronted with particular situations are always an emphasis.

Screen shot 4“Over 150 JUST THINK FIRST student ambassadors led the charge in the recent Celebrate My Drive on-line voting contest” said Dr. Vivian Wells, one of the JUST THINK FIRST founders at Wakefield. “Celebrate My Drive was created by State Farm to share the belief that safe driving is a lifelong pledge or undertaking. The contest allowed communities to rally around teen drivers and encourage them to make safe driving commitments. Auto crashes are the number one cause of death among young people today. If we can reinforce good driving habits like remembering to keep 2 eyes on the road and 2 hands on the wheel – we can help save lives.”

Screen shot 2013-12-11 at 12.02.03 PMWakefield has just been informed by State Farm they will take home one of the $25,000 prizes. A check presentation is planned for half time of the home basketball game on December 10th. Congratulations to the school and the students and the JUST THINK FIRST organization at Wakefield High School for coming together to win this grant!

 

JTF Ambassadors

JUST THINK FIRST Student Ambassadors at Wakefield High School prepare for State Farm’s nationwide on-line voting contest, Celebrate My Drive. Wakefield won $25,000 in the contest.

 

Coming Together

Thursday, March 15, 2012
6–8:30 pm
Living Arts College
3000 Wakefield Crossing Drive
Raleigh, NC 27614

Wakefield High School, Raleigh, NC – February 29, 2012
Wakefield High School has produced two documentaries in the last five years that have been called “exceptional teaching tools for all teens.” The school’s JUST THINK FIRST Program recently provided copies of both documentaries to all high schools in NC for use in driver education classes, school assemblies, and other programs deemed appropriate.

The personal responsibility video focuses on teen substance abuse and follows the original video made in 2007 on the topic of drinking and driving. Personal responsibility tells the story of what happened to one Wakefield High School student and his family while educating viewers on the impact drugs and alcohol have on our youth today.

“ The death rate among teens due to drinking and driving, and alcohol and drug use is continuing to increase in North Carolina. By sharing Wakefield’s stories and providing a powerful reality check for viewers, we hope to make an impact. The goal of the JUST THINK FIRST Program is to raise awareness on societal issues that affect our children.
Through education, we continue to be committed in our efforts to remind students of the safe and responsible choices they can make” noted Dr. Vivian Wells, Assistant Principal at Wakefield High.

A March 15th event is planned for the community at the Living Arts Center in Wakefield.  Parents and students from Northern Wake schools are invited to attend a viewing of the new JUST THINK FIRST video and a program addressing teen substance abuse. Dr. Scott  Swartzwelder, a Duke University psychiatrist and expert on the subject is the keynote speaker.
A number of related vendors will be on hand at the beginning of the evening including representatives from MADD, Kidtrackeronline , and Drug Free NC. Others who will participate in the main program include a local ALE  officer, a Wake County school principal, and a Wake County parent. The program entitled, Coming Together, is sponsored by The JUST THINK FIRST Program and The Wake Weekly.

How did the JUST THINK FIRST Program come about?
Wakefield High School has suffered an alarming number of student deaths due to drug trafficking, speed racing, drinking and driving, and more.

Between 2005 and 2007, nine students died. One student, an Eagle Scout and member of the school band, was found dead in the trunk of his car after his first year of college. He had been duct – taped and set on fire…murdered because of a drug deal gone bad. Eight students died in five separate automobile accidents and sadly, more students were left permanently impaired in additional accidents. As a result of poor decisions, one single driving accident took the lives of four senior boys who were returning home from a regional basketball play – off game. This particular accident received much media attention; but it was all of the accidents and the loss of so many young lives in less than 24 months that put the Wakefield community in a state of shock and disbelief.

“Many organizations and people in the community reached out to Wakefield after the deaths of our students offering support and assistance with money, time, materials, and programs. We received a grant from the Wake County New Vehicle Dealers’ Association and working in conjunction with this group, produced a documentary entitled JUST THINK FIRST – choices count.

We released this documentary in spring 2007 and provided copies to school systems in North Carolina. The JUST THINK FIRST Program was officially born at this point in time,” stated Sandy Gasper, former PTSA President.

Contact information & funding–Videos are available for purchase on the website, www.justhinkfirst.com. Funding for the program comes primarily from grants, Wakefield’s 5K Road Race and The Skinny Turkey Half Marathon (both races are held in the fall of the year).
Debbie Albritton, WHS JTF Committee – dalbritton@wcpss.net – 919-562-3600
Sandy Gasper, WHS PTSA – tgasper@nc.rr.com – 919-757-5942
Dr. Vivian Wells, WHS Assistant Principal – vcwells@wcpss.net – 919-562-3606

JUST THINK FIRST Sends 600 DVDs

Wakefield High School, Raleigh, NC – February 8, 2012
Wakefield High School has produced two documentaries in the last five years that have been called “exceptional teaching tools for all teens.”

The school’s JUST THINK FIRST Program is pleased to be able to provide copies of both videos to all high schools in NC. The newest video, JUST THINK FIRST – personal responsibility focuses on the topic of teen drug use and follows the original one made in 2007 on drinking and driving. JUST THINK FIRST – personal responsibility tells the story of what happened to one Wakefield student and his family while educating viewers on the impact drugs and alcohol have on our youth today. Viewers immediately recognize that the stories from these videos are real, noting they share what has happened to real people; rather, teens who were attending high school. As a teaching tool, this fact is compelling, and as a result, the lessons being taught about both personal responsibility and choice are greatly enhanced.

“The JUST THINK FIRST Program seeks to raise awareness on various topics that affect teens in society today including violence, sex, drugs, alcohol, gangs and negative peer pressure. Through education, we continue to be committed in our efforts to provide powerful messages to students regarding the safe and responsible choices they can make” noted Dr. Vivian Wells, Assistant Principal at Wakefield. “To be a part of this video was an awesome experience,” said Daniel Zulkowski, one of the student actors, “and I hope it helps students learn more about the negative effects of drugs and alcohol.”

How did the JUST THINK FIRST Program come about?
Recognized as an academic School of Distinction, Wakefield has also won honors and awards in athletics, including state titles in boys’ basketball and girls’ track. A typical American high school; the student body is close and the parents and community are supportive and involved.

Despite all of this, Wakefield has suffered an alarming number of student deaths due to drug trafficking, speed racing, drinking and driving, and more. Between 2005 and 2007, nine students died. One student, an Eagle Scout and member of the school band, was found dead in the trunk of his car after his first year of college. He had been duct-taped and set on fire…murdered because of a drug deal gone bad. Eight students died in five separate automobile accidents and sadly, more students were left permanently impaired in additional accidents. As a result of poor decisions, one single driving accident took the lives of four senior boys who were returning home from a regional basketball play-off game. This particular accident received much media attention; but it was all of the accidents and the loss of so many young lives in less than 24 months that put the Wakefield community in a state of shock and disbelief.

“Many organizations and people in the community reached out to Wakefield after the deaths of our students offering support and assistance with money, time, materials, and programs. We received a grant from the Wake County New Vehicle Dealers’ Association and working in conjunction with this group, produced a documentary entitled JUST THINK FIRST – choices count. We released this documentary in spring 2007 and provided copies to school systems in North Carolina. The JUST THINK FIRST Program was officially born at this point in time,” stated Sandy Gasper, former PTSA President.

Use of the videos –
The JUST THINK FIRST Program offers these videos to all NC high schools as resources and teaching tools to be used in driver education classes, school assemblies, and other programs deemed appropriate. By sharing Wakefield’s stories and providing a powerful reality check for viewers, the goal is to raise awareness on the societal ills that affect our teens.

Contact information & funding – Both the original and new videos are available for purchase on the website, www.justhinkfirst.com. Funding for the program comes primarily from grants, Wakefield’s 5K Road Race and The Skinny Turkey Half Marathon (both races are held in the fall of the year).

Debbie Albritton, WHS JTF Committee – dalbritton@wcpss.net – 562-3600
Sandy Gasper, WHS PTSA – tgasper@nc.rr.com – 757-5942
Dr. Vivian Wells, WHS Assistant Principal – vcwells@wcpss.net – 562-3606