Drivers who use a cell phone to talk or to send a text message are taking their lives in their hands.

Most people probably would say they would never take that risk. But anyone who spends much time on the road could testify to how many drivers they’ve seen who do.

Capital High earned a big thumbs up this week for taking an entire period to focus the attention of all its students — possibly the most cell-intensive population out there — on the issue.

Among other things, the students watched an episode of “Oprah” that included heartbreaking stories from the families of people who died in wrecks caused by distracted drivers.

It also featured scientists describing the dangerous toll a cell phone can take on a driver’s concentration.

Capital High senior Michele Bayuk, one of the students who took part, said she turns the phone off when she drives because a relative was in a collision caused by a driver talking on a cell phone.

But Bayuk said she thinks her driving practices are in the minority among her peers. Here’s hoping the schoolwide exercise helps to change that.

A thumbs up as well to Ashlee Mihelish, a Helena High teacher who saw the “Oprah” show and got the ball rolling at Capital, where her husband, Kyle, is a teacher. Let’s hope the message can reach all students at Helena High, too, and maybe even both middle schools.

Thumbs down to the watery déjà vu happening at Malta this week. Someone — authorities said they expect kids partying — cut the fence around the Hi-Line town’s two water tanks. It’s a breach of security that spurred local officials to react.

Schools had to close for a couple of days. Medical facilities began hauling water. Some restaurants closed. There was a run on bottled water, and the town was flushing lines so it could provide some safe water while everyone waits for test results on the water in the tanks.

Boulder went through something very similar last month when someone pried a hatch from one of its water tanks. Everything came back clean there, and chances are the result will be the same in Malta.

One restaurant and bar owner in Malta closed the restaurant and kept the bar open.

 “I told my customers real men don’t put water in their whiskey anyway,” he said, earning his own thumbs up for a sense of humor.  But the incidents have rattled nerves regardless of how likely they are to be malicious.

There were some remarkable, thumbs-up worthy math scores in the news in Helena this week.  Logan Fladeland, a C.R. Anderson Middle School eighth-grader, finished tops in the state in the eighth-grade level of the American Math Contest, a competition sponsored by several academic and professional math organizations.

But he also finished with the best score on the sophomore-level part of the test among students at Capital High, where he takes math classes.

And Kira Parker, a sixth-grader at C.R. Anderson, came in second on the sophomore test. The other students at Capital did great, too. This was the first year Capital entered the competition, and the school finished third out of 28 Montana schools. 

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