Two Students Push a Class Project onto the Floor of the State Legislature

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Lincoln East students Brittany Gondringer and Neeka Choobineh may still be in high school, but that's not holding them back.

Two students were stunned after what they witnessed at a speech competition in Kearney. They said, while on the way back to Lincoln, the driver of their chartered bus, had one hand on the wheel, the other up to his ear as he chatted away on cell phone for more than an hour and a half.

"Our whole goal was to take preventative measures," said Brittany, a sophomore. "We don't want to wait until some child is injured or killed due to someone else's negligence before this becomes an issue in our state. So we just really want to take proactive measures and stop this before it is a problem."

In one of their freshman social studies class projects, the students looked at a problem - charter bus drivers using cell phones while driving students - and came up with a way to change it.

"It was a great accomplishment," said Neeka, a sophomore. "It was a great experience. I learned a lot from it and I'm just going to use the knowledge I gained in this project and move forward."

When word got to senator Rich Pahls, via their social studies teacher Tim Bayne, Pahls decided something had to be done. Pahls introduce a bill that would ban all bus drivers who transport students from using cell phones, except in the case of an emergency.

"I hope that i have helped them learn and think about being an agent of change," Bayne said. "That's really what a democracy is about and that's what America is about."

"It was really amazing to me just watching this grow from a small little class thing, a class project with a bunch of high school freshman and then watching it grow into this real issue that's actually being recognized by the legislature," said Brittany.

Both Brittany and Neeka say it's all turning their reaction into action.

"I feel very gratified to know that as a teen I can make a difference," Neeka said. "Even though I don't have the right to vote, I have a say in the government. So it truly exemplifies the power of our democracy."