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TMCNet:  Greenwood Student Named Distinguished Finalist

[February 26, 2013]

Greenwood Student Named Distinguished Finalist

Feb 26, 2013 (Times Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Like a good, smiling neighbor, Hailey Flatte is there to lend a hand.

Instead of sleeping in on Saturday mornings or allowing Facebook to swallow all of her post-school hours, the Greenwood High School senior has spent the last few years volunteering her time at the Greenwood Recycling Center and tutoring younger students.

One of the 18-year-old Flatte's ongoing volunteer efforts included her "Distracted Driving Awareness" project, a day-long program she started that resulted in the recognition of Distracted Driving Awareness Day on Nov. 11 each year in Greenwood. This project, along with Flatte's other volunteer projects, helped her be named a Distinguished Finalist for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards' Top Youth Volunteer title.

"I was really surprised by the award because I had applied for it awhile back and almost forgot about it because of doing school work and stuff," said Flatte, who lives with her mother, Jodee Flatte, in Fort Smith. "I got really excited because my school counselor said that this is the first time this has happened for anyone in Greenwood.

"It's a scholarship but there's no money," she added before laughing. "It's great they recognize Distinguished Finalists, and I've never been happier at not winning money in my life." For her "Distracted Driving Awareness" project, Flatte partnered with Allstate Insurance in Greenwood and designed T-shirts for 77 Greenwood students to wear to school one day in November 2011. The shirts represented the 77 students who are killed in car accidents each week because of distractions, she said.

"These car-accident statistics don't even include texting," Flatte said. "These numbers are of those who are distracted while driving." Flatte asked students from different grades to wear the shirts to school on that designated day. She also requested that each student wearing a shirt to remain silent throughout the school day.

"Even if a teacher called upon them, the students couldn't talk; they were representing those 77 students killed in accidents," Flatte said. "Allstate Insurance also gave out handouts that had information on them." Flatte said she initially worried what her classmates would think the 77 shirts "were lame," but she quickly recognized the potential impact the project could have on the school and community.

"Everyone thought it was a cool project," she said. "Their parents started talking about it, and the parents got ahold of our video for the project and put it on Facebook so other people could watch it." Flatte joked that business is her middle name. She is a vice president and district secretary for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, as well as a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, the Greenwood Robotics program and the National Honor Society, among other programs and groups.

Set to graduate in May, Flatte plans to major in biomedical engineering at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and become a dentist. She said her call to give back to her community most likely won't fade in the coming years.

"I'd like to do the program that's similar to Doctors without Borders; it's a program for dentists," Flatte said. "I like helping people -- a lot." ___ (c)2013 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) Visit Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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