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Lennard HS takes 3 awards in annual seat belt competition

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image Lennard High won Best Overall in the recent Battle of the Belts seat belt safety awareness competition.

Lennard High School took First Place in the Best Overall Campaign and Best Public Service Announcement portions of the recent Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office’s annual “Battle of the Belts” to promote seat belt safety awareness.

By PENNY FLETCHER

Lennard High School took First Place in the Best Overall Campaign and Best Public Service Announcement portions of the recent Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office’s annual “Battle of the Belts” to promote seat belt safety awareness.

But it didn’t stop there. Lennard also received 2nd Place in the Best Poster portion of the competition.

For their efforts, the school received a total of $1,700 from this year’s business sponsor, Geico Insurance at a recent ceremony held at the school.

“The work and effort that our Student Government and Ms. Wasylkiw put into this campaign was outstanding. This is a very worthy campaign and issue for our students and community,” said Lennard’s principal, Craig Horstman.

“Battle of the Belts is a student-led campaign to increase seatbelt use among teenage drivers and passengers. Lennard High School’s Student Government has created a campaign to effectively encourage students at the high school and in their community to wear seat belts. I am very proud of our students, especially of their level of commitment and work ethic. They make conscientious decisions when creating the Buckle Up Campaign to ensure their friends and peers are making good choices in the car (including buckling up and not texting while driving),” Christine Wasylkiw said.

Students were also proud of their efforts.

“We were aiming for our best campaign yet and that is what we achieved. Awareness is everything,” said Student Government President Ashley Wronka.

Other schools in the coverage area of this newspaper also did well.

Riverview High School was the proud winner of the Highest Compliance category.

Its principal, Robert Heilmann, credits student government advisor Laura Hike and School Resource Deputy Tommy Shannon with motivating the students to win their award.

Seatbelts are only good if they’re used, and getting students to buckle up is the whole point of the annual event.

This was the first year Riverview had the highest compliance number in the county. “We’ve always been in the highest four or five (schools), but this was the first year the numbers came up on top,” Heilmann said.

For receiving the title, Riverview received $700 from Geico.

The money will be spent for student incentives.

“It isn’t earmarked for a particular use, which gives us the chance to offer small rewards, like maybe a gift certificate for McDonalds, or help a student with a need, like maybe money for someone who can’t otherwise attend the prom,” Heilmann said.

Each year, the sheriff’s office and the Hillsborough County School District partner in an effort to get students to buckle up.

This is an effort to get teenage drivers and passengers to wear seat belts.

The sheriff’s Community Outreach Division coordinated the awareness and safety programs in 26 county high schools which also included random seat belt checks by deputies at all the participating schools.

“Seat belt use saves lives,” said Tina Appoloney, senior secretary of the School Resource

Section of the Community Outreach Division of the sheriff’s office. “Geico Insurance was this year’s campaign sponsor.” 

Geico provided $5,000 to be divided among schools winning in five categories including highest percentage of seat belt use; most improved percentage of seat belt use; best overall campaign; best public service announcement and best poster.

The sheriff’s website states that “the Battle of the Belts makes a difference because teenagers are the worst group of drivers and passengers when it comes to wearing seat belts. And the leading cause of death among teenagers is motor vehicle crashes and teens have the highest fatality rate than any other age group.”

The annual seat belt awareness program and competition began in 2006 after 16-year-old Katie Marchetti died following an automobile accident.

“Her parents started the Katie Marchetti Memorial Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that seeks to bring hope and cause other teens to fasten their seat belts,” Appoloney said.

The foundation’s history and purpose, along with Katie’s story, can be viewed at http://www.katiesstory.com.

Other schools in the coverage area of this newspaper also did well in the recent competition.

Spoto took a 2nd Place in Best Public Service Announcement, and 3rd in the Overall Campaign category.

East Bay took a second (to Riverview) in Most Compliance; Brandon was Most Improved; and Newsome at FishHawk took First Place in the Poster portion of the competition.

“The reason Battle of the Belts is so effective is due to the dedication of our Student Government Associations and our ability to work closely with the students. We do our best to relay our message, and it’s the community and the student body who do such an amazing job receiving it. Every year we have such a good turn out, and it makes us proud to have the ability to make such an impact,” said Rebecca Knowles, a member of Lennard’s Student Government.

To find out more about the competition and watch some videos made at the different schools, visit the sheriff’s office website at http://www.hcso.tampa.fl.us/Articles/Articles/Battle-of-the-Belts.aspx.

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