Amherst, Mont Vernon teens win seat belt contest

AMHERST – For the second time in three years, Souhegan High School students have won the state’s Seat Belt Challenge, beating out 24 other high schools, including Milford, Nashua and Hollis-Brookline.

But before they traveled to the state Police Academy Training facility in Concord, the winning team of Amherst and Mont Vernon students – Haley Aiken, Dylan French, Logan Landrum and Will Hart – had to go against nine other Souhegan teams. Officer John Smith, the Souhegan school resource officer, coordinated the effort with the help of advisor Kelli Warecki.

The contest has two parts. First there is a timed event, when a team of four students sit in a car, click seat belts on, raise their arms into the air and then quickly move on to the next seat and repeat their actions until each one has had a turn in the driver’s seat.

After the first round, the students have to correctly answer questions on seat belt safety. The aim of the competition is to show how important, and how quick and easy it is to buckle up.

They “absolutely learn something,” from the contest and from studying facts about seat belt use, Warecki said. “It created really good conversations” about accidents and deaths caused by nonuse of the restraints.

“I think the numbers shocked them a little,” she said.

The Seat Belt Challenge is organized by the Buckle Up New Hampshire Coalition, part of the Injury Prevention enter at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.

Last year, an all-girl Milford High School team won the state contest.