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Shaler senior taking on position of SADD's Student of the Year

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
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Maddie Seel

Maddie Seel, a senior at Shaler Area High School, will be the youth spokeswoman for Students Against Destructive Decisions and support the organization's mission in her new role as National Student of the Year for the 2014-15 term.

Earlier this month, Students Against Destructive Decisions officials named Seel the National Student of the Year — a position she will start at the SADD National Conference in Washington, D.C., from June 22 to 25.

“Maddie is really quite exceptional in her ability to articulate what SADD is all about,” said Penny Wells, president and CEO of SADD Inc. “She has a personal story as well, and I think that passion translates when she is speaking.”

Seel became involved in SADD through the Youth Advocacy League at Shaler Area High School shortly after 2010 Shaler Area graduate Adam Schuster, a good friend of her family and her brother, died in a motorcycle accident with another vehicle on March 7, 2012.

The loss inspired her to create Youth Involved Education of Legal Drivers and host the first annual YIELD Traffic Safety Conference with close to 200 students from seven local school districts in 2012.

SADD recognized Seel's local efforts to encourage safe driving among her peers in 2013, when she was named SADD student of year for Pennsylvania. During the 2013-14 year, which concludes at the June National Conference, Seel has been serving on the 10-member National Student Leadership Council for SADD, which represents more than 600 SADD chapters across the country.

As the National Student of the Year, Seel will chair the SADD National Student Leadership Council and oversee all student-led projects across the country. She will sit on the SADD National Board of Directors and serve as a SADD spokeswoman at conferences and media events.

“I think it would be really fulfilling to know my efforts are being used in such a wide place,” Seel said about her new position. “I believe so whole-heartedly in the mission of SADD, I hope I can make it that much better … so they can continue what they do.”

Seel also hopes to continue the work she started while on the Student Leadership Council to work with national traffic-safety organizations on joint projects and establish a new campaign through SADD to focus on mental-health awareness.

“It's going to mean a lot of work. It's going to mean a lot of traveling for things SADD needs a representative for,” Seel said. “But I think that I'll be able to manage my time and do it because I'm so passionate about it. I definitely think it's going to be worth it.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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