Bijou buckles up better than big schools

       If you're going to Bijou School, you better fasten your seatbelts.
       The school's Student Council members made sure of that last fall as part of their participation in DriveSmart's regional community seatbelt challenge.
       They did such a good job, in fact, that they won. DriveSmart of Colorado Springs announced last month that Bijou outdid 21 other high schools - all of them bigger than the alternative high school on North Chestnut Street.
       “I was surprised,” said Bijou Student Council member Kris Lynn. “I thought one of the bigger schools would get it because they've got a bunch more people.”
       The triumph not only gives the school bragging rights and a banner that says “DriveSmart Challenge '05 Champion,” but it also meant a $300 cash prize. “They were really excited about that,” said Jan Perry, an English teacher who advises the council.
       The Bijou council members followed through on a plan that included checking for seatbelts on drivers entering the school parking lot on three different occasions last fall. “Those who were buckled up we thanked,” Perry said. “For the others, we made up mock tickets that said 'Please buckle up.' ”
       Some people must hav e gotten the idea, because the compliance rate increased slightly each time - from 89 percent the first time to 90 percent the second to 91 percent the third.
       DriveSmart is a national program that is coordinated locally by the Colorado Springs Police Department.
       As part of the support activities for the seatbelt challenge, Student Coun-cil members went to nearby Bristol Elementary, giving the youngsters color-in bookmarks that stressed wearing seatbelts. The council members even got to make a presentation on Bristol's weekly TV show. “They talked about how important it was for the students to buckle up and to check their little brothers and sisters and remind mom,” Perry said.
       Other activities included visits to Bijou by a Colorado State patrol officer talking about the consequences of drinking and driving, and police bringing the wrecked remains of a car that had been driven by someone who had not put on a seatbelt.
       Paperwork was also required to meet the DriveSmart requirements. “We had to keep a complete binder of what we did,” Perry explained. “It took a lot of work.”
       Lynn said he had a personal interest in the matter. “One of my friends was thrown out of a car once because he wasn't wearing a seatbelt,” he said. “He wasn't killed, but he was hurt pretty bad.”

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