Pop singer Shontelle performed at Lakeside High School last week, but the real message for students came from a young woman who died five months ago.
In the days leading up to the concert, a burned and broken hulk that once was a Chevy Aveo rested in front of the school as a warning to Lakeside students on the dangers of texting while driving.
Authorities believe Jewel Miller was texting or talking on her mobile phone when she crashed her car on Hephzibah McBean Road in May. The 18-year-old homecoming queen had just graduated from Hephzibah High School two days before the fatal wreck.
To discourage other teens from using their cell phones while behind the wheel, Miller's family organized a tour of the car to area high schools. It has been on display at most Richmond County high schools, and at Harlem and Evans high schools in Columbia County.
"We haven't done anything to the car," said Miller's mother, Roselyn, who attended the Thursday concert in the Lakeside gym with her family. "It's the same as it was the day that Jewel died.
"The car, as it is now, can say a lot more to kids about texting or talking on the phone (while driving) than words ever could."
The Millers attended the concert in support of a campaign at Lakeside to stop students from using cell phones when driving. About 640 students signed a pledge not to do so.
The student body's support of the pledge won them the concert with Shontelle, an up-and-coming songstress who recently scored a hit with Impossible. The concert was sponsored by Augusta radio station HD98.3.
In life, Roselyn Miller said, her daughter wanted to change the world. In death, she said, Jewel Miller is doing just that.
"She would be overjoyed at having such a big impact on so many people," Miller said. "She wanted to make a difference.
"She wanted her life to having meaning, and I think now it does."
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