December 19, 2014

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Lorain County JVS program encourages children to buckle up

Deputy Sheriff Tony Pluta, JVS school resource officer, shows preschool students Colton Cowling and Shelby Gallion how to fasten a seat belt. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Deputy Sheriff Tony Pluta, JVS school resource officer, shows preschool students Colton Cowling and Shelby Gallion how to fasten a seat belt. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

PITTSFIELD TWP. — Teachers and administrators at Lorain County Joint Vocational School are hoping their safe driving message reaches the community.

Deputy Sheriff Tony Pluta, JVS school resource officer, hands preschool student Taylor Varner a prize for buckling up in a seat belt on Tuesday.

Deputy Sheriff Tony Pluta, JVS school resource officer, hands preschool student Taylor Varner a prize for buckling up in a seat belt on Tuesday.

As part of the school’s annual “Buckle-up Bowl” week, teachers relayed the message to the community’s youngest members — preschool students at JVS. Students listened to a story read by Principal Jill Petitti and JVS school resource officer Deputy Tony Pluta before buckling themselves into specially-made seats for the occasion.

After the program, students received a sticker to show that they belong to the buckle-up club.

Pluta said preschool students have told him that they’ve reminded their parents to buckle their seat belts. That’s the idea behind the Buckle-up Bowl, he said.

Petitti said JVS has hosted Buckle-up Bowl week for seven years to encourage safe driving habits, especially leading up to high school proms. She said the entire student body is involved in programs throughout the week.

Students from the collision repair program built the safety seats, and marketing and management students made signs, banners and displays.

Preschoolers wait in line to learn how to buckle up safely.

Preschoolers wait in line to learn how to buckle up safely.

Today, crash dummies “Vince and Larry” will visit the JVS to take pictures with students. During their lunch periods, students also may try on special goggles and run through a series of tasks. The goggles mimic what it’s like to drive impaired because of alcohol or drugs, according to the school.

Petitti said students will be rewarded throughout the week with coupons and other prizes if they are seen buckling up. Students who take a five-question safe driving quiz during lunch will receive a backpack provided by the Safe Driving Coalition that reads, “JVS students buckle up and make the grade.”

When students leave the school, they will drive by a vehicle totaled in a traffic wreck.

Petitti said the program appears to be working.

“We used to hear of crashes all the time, especially from our students who were driving erratically,” she said. “But now, I don’t hear it as much.”

She added that school is an important time to stress the safe-driving message.

“Parents are promoting this at home, but it’s important to promote this here as well,” she said. “We have them for eight hours a day.”

For more information on Lorain County JVS’s Buckle-up Bowl week, visit the school’s Facebook page. Pictures from the events will be posted throughout the week.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.