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Louisa High School, Drew Middle School recognized for traffic safety projects

SALEM – Louisa County High School in Louisa Co. is the statewide high school division winner of the 2017 “Arrive Alive” teen safe driving campaign sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO), the Virginia State Police (VSP), and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office in partnership with Allstate and State Farm Insurance. Stuarts Draft High School in Augusta Co. placed second and Randolph-Henry High School in Charlotte Co. placed third.

“We are honored and thrilled to receive this year’s Arrive Alive campaign award,” explained Corporal Robert Sarnoski, School Resource Officer and YOVASO Club Sponsor at LCHS. “Members of the LCHS YOVASO club worked hard to encourage safe driver and passenger behaviors among their peers. The key to our success was the tremendous support received from the Louisa community, school administrators/faculty, and YOVASO staff. We look forward to expanding our YOVASO efforts in the new school year.”

Middle school winners of the “Arrive Alive” campaign are Forest Middle School in Bedford Co., first place; Central Academy Middle School in Botetourt Co., second place; and Drew Middle School, Stafford Co., third place.

“I am grateful to the Forest Middle School community, Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, YOVASO staff, and especially our club members for helping make this year’s Arrive Alive campaign a great success,” explained Deputy Adam Hopkins, School Resource Officer and YOVASO Club Sponsor at FMS. “It’s my hope this achievement will help motivate our club and other students at FMS to continue encouraging passenger, pedestrian, and bike safety in our school and community.”

More than 60 high and middle schools in the commonwealth participated in the annual Arrive Alive campaign that ran from March 20 to May 5, 2017. The high school campaign focused on reducing risks and preventing teen driver-related crashes during the high-risk warm weather months and during prom and graduation celebrations. The middle school campaign addressed passenger, pedestrian and bike safety, as well as establishing safe driving attitudes and behaviors prior to the driving years.

Winners in the high school division were selected based on their Creative Project, which was developed by students and emphasized the Arrive Alive campaign theme and messaging. The Creative Project was given the highest weight and was judged on content, percentage of student involvement, and creativity. Other judging criteria included educational and awareness activities aimed at changing driving attitudes and behaviors and the results of pre and post campaign distracted driving checks to discourage distracted driving among students. The results of the distraction checks showed a 12% overall decrease in distracted driving among students at participating schools from pre-campaign to post-campaign.

Middle school division winners were selected based on their Creative Project and educational and awareness activities on passenger, bicycle, and pedestrian safety.

“Car crashes remain the number one cause of injury and death for U.S. teens aged 15-20,” explained Casey Taylor, YOVASO Program Development Coordinator. “Last year in Virginia we saw our first increase in the number of teens killed in crashes in four years. We don’t want to see that number increase anymore, and in order for that to happen we have to continue promoting peer-to-peer initiatives like Arrive Alive.”

Winning Project Summaries:

§ To capture first place, the Louisa County students created a “What Will It Take Wall” to promote safe and responsible driver and passenger behaviors by encouraging individuals to slow down, text later, and buckle up now. Sixty-one crosses were cut out and placed on the wall to represent teen driving-related fatalities in Virginia, in 2016. Following a short Drive Safe talk by Sheriff Ashland Fortune and Louisa Town Police Chief Roberts, students, faculty and administrators were invited to place crosses on the wall in the main hallway of the school. As part of wall, a video titled “What Will it Take?” was shown to classes at 10:25a.m. the day before prom and discussion questions followed. This project reached the entire student body as well as many faculty and staff members. For pictures:

§ At Stuarts Draft, students organized a safe driving rally. Teachers were invited to bring their classes during each of the four 45-minute rotations. Students were encouraged to participate in a variety of activities where they earned tickets for their participation. The tickets were then deposited into a bucket as entries into prize drawings. After 35-40 minutes of activity time, a whistle was blown and all participants were brought together for a short video from AT&T’s “The Last Text” series and a few concluding words from the club sponsor and Sergeant James Snyder of the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office. The traffic safety topics addressed through various activities were seat belt use, speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving. A variety of hands-on activities were set up by the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office, Allstate, Central Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth, YOVASO, The Foundation for Safety and Education, Virginia State Police, and the Harrisonburg Police Department. Other activities were sponsored by the school’s club like a DUI obstacle course, DUI basketball, Pin the Flower on the Skeleton, pledge banner signings, Red Thumb Reminder, and “Why I Choose” banner signings. This activity reached 100% of the student body. For pictures:

§ The Randolph-Henry students organized the “Arrive Alive Prom Promise” presentation. The day before the presentation, club members had a pledge signing day so they could have the banner on stage with them. Several speakers were invited to share their story of losing someone because of distracted driving or DUI. When students entered the auditorium, a video played in remembrance of a former RHHS student who was killed just last year. The sponsor opened the presentation by sharing the loss of her father in a motorcycle crash which resulted from distracted driving. An athletic director from a nearby school (who is also a volunteer firefighter) shared details of losing one of his students in a crash. The third speaker was a 2016 graduate of Randolph-Henry spoke and shared the importance of not drinking and driving and how he lost his best friend three months after graduation due to drinking and driving. The last speaker was a graduate of RHHS and a star athlete who had also been in a crash which resulted from DUI. He explained how he had to learn to walk again and that drinking and driving is a selfish act. The presentation concluded with a Q&A session and more pledge signings. More than 60% of the student body attend the presentation. For pictures: Email [email protected]

§ The YOVASO club at Forest Middle School held a “Safety Selfie” Photo Contest. Students were encouraged to take “selfies” promoting passenger, pedestrian, and bike safety and to submit them to the contest. In an effort to promote overall student and teacher involvement, gift cards from local restaurants and ice cream shops were given to the winning “selfies”. This school’s initiatives reached more than 95% of the student body. For pictures:

§ Students at Central Academy Middle School held a “YOVASO Safety Day” with organizations such as the Virginia State Police, Botetourt County Sheriff’s Department, and the YOVASO state office. Throughout the day students learned about distracted driving, bike safety, and pedestrian and passenger safety. More than 85% of the student body participated in the YOVASO Safety Day. For pictures: Email [email protected]

§ At Drew Middle School, the YOVASO club was tasked with creating a poster, sidewalk chalk drawing, or video to emphasize the importance of seat belts for passengers and the helmet for bike riders. Two videos were produced using an anime cartoon program. Through their efforts, Drew reached close to 100% of their student body. For pictures: Search @jeanine_popescu on Twitter or email [email protected]

As the statewide high school winner, Louisa County will receive a check for $500. Stuarts Draft High School will receive $250 and Randolph-Henry will receive $150. The middle school winners will receive cash prizes funded by the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education, a nonprofit charitable organization affiliated with AAA Mid-Atlantic. Forest Middle School will receive $300, Central Academy will receive $200, and Drew will receive $100. All schools will receive a congratulations banner.

For more information about the “Arrive Alive” campaign or the YOVASO Program, call Mary King, Program Administrator, or Casey Taylor, Program Development Coordinator, at 540-375-3596 or visit the website at YOVASO is Virginia’s Peer-to-Peer Education and Prevention Program for Teen Driver and Passenger Safety. It is a program of the Virginia State Police and funded by grants from the Virginia DMV Highway Safety Office. Membership in YOVASO is free and is open to all Virginia high schools and middle schools. YOVASO currently has 94 active member schools.

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