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Area YOVASO groups, school SROs dominate year-end awards

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    On Thursday July 26, Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety, held its 2011-2012 awards banquet at Lynchburg College.

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    It proved to be a coronation for the work local groups and individuals had put into that effort.
    The YOVASO Program is made up of over 100 middle and high schools from across Virginia. Of the 19 traffic safety awards handed out at the banquet, seven were given to Bedford County.
    Those included:
    *The New School Resource Officer of the Year Award was given to Deputy Daniel Clark, Liberty High School;
    *The School Resource Officer of the Year Award was given to Cpl. Ryan Hilbish, Jefferson Forest High School;    *The Speaking Out and Saving Lives Award was given to Jefferson Forest High School;
    *The New YOVASO Sponsor of the Year Award was given to Krissy Alphin, Liberty High School;
    *The YOVASO Club of the Year Award was given to Liberty High School;
    *The New YOVASO Middle School Award of the Year was given to Deputy Randy Smith, Forest Middle School; and
    *The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Sgt. David Mays, Bedford County Sheriff’s Office.
    Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown said he was proud of all the work of the sheriff’s office school resource officers. “Their commitment and dedication to the youth of Bedford County is second to none,” Brown stated.
    Brown also noted that Deputy Gary Desilvey will be the new school resource officer at Staunton River High School.

Sgt. David Mays
    Mays was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement” award for his lifelong commitment to youth traffic safety and the prevention of fatalities among young drivers.
    “This individual has truly been an asset to not only the YOVASO program, but to the lives of the many students that he has come into contact with during his law enforcement career,” said Mary King, YOVASO Program Administrator. “Since 1983 he has been working with youth at the elementary, middle, and high school level to instill safety habits, self esteem, good citizenship and a positive rapport between the students and law enforcement.”
    King said Sgt. Mays has worked with both the Roanoke City Police Department and the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office with the DARE Programs and as sponsor of the YOVASO Clubs. “In  2010, Sgt. Mays was promoted to sergeant over the community service division for the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office and he has spent the past year building and supporting YOVASO Clubs at all the high schools in Bedford County,” King emphasized. “The clubs in his community were some of the most active in the state during the 2011-2012 school year, winning many awards tonight for outstanding activity.”
    Sgt. Mays also serves on the YOVASO Advisory Board and gives presentations statewide to bring attention to this important issue and to market the YOVASO program to schools statewide.
LHS awards
    Members of the Liberty High School YOVASO Club; SRO Deputy Daniel Clark; and sponsor, Krissy Alphin were honored with traffic safety awards.
    Clark won the “New School Resource Officer of the Year” award for his outstanding support and guidance of the club and its members. Clark emphasizes creativity when working with the students to develop ideas for school campaigns. Clark also promotes YOVASO and safe driving on a daily basis by displaying the YOVASO logo and the message “Buckle Up. Phone Down” on his police vehicle. “His ability to turn this club into an award-winning program during his first year is an inspiration to other new school resource officers,” stated King.
    Alphin won the “New YOVASO Sponsor of the Year” award for her support of Liberty’s YOVASO club. “She enthusiastically accepted the responsibility of assisting with the YOVASO club at her school in the 2011-2012 academic year and brought new ideas and excitement to the club,” King said.
    Both Clark and Alphin had unique ideas that helped Liberty place first in the “Take Action, Don’t Be A Distraction” campaign and second in the large school division of the “Buckle Up, Drive Sober” campaign.
    Liberty High School also received the prestigious “YOVASO Club of the Year” award. The school actively participated in all YOVASO campaigns during the 2011-2012 academic year. During the “Buckle Up, Drive Sober” campaign, students promoted the message “Seat Belts Save Lives” throughout the school and into the community, using YOVASO club members to market the message. 
    During the spring campaign, Liberty High School developed many creative activities to increase seat belt use. These activities included a shoe display representing the 83 teens lost in crashes last year, a drunk booth with a safe and sober signing pledge, a tomb stone display with safety messages and displays of both a police car and hearse with the message “How will you get home?”

JFHS awards
    Jefferson Forest High School and its school resource officer, Corporal Ryan Hilbish, were honored with traffic safety awards at the YOVASO Awards Banquet.
    The school’s YOVASO Club won the “Speaking Out and Saving Lives” award for its efforts in 2011-2012 to advocate for safer driving among its students. Hilbish received the “School Resource Officer of the Year” award for his outstanding support and guidance to the school’s club. 
    Jefferson Forest participated in every YOVASO safe driving campaign during the 2011-2012 academic year and placed in the top 10 for each campaign. The school took first place honors in the large school division for the 2011 “Buckle Up, Drive Sober” campaign.
    The students organized a school-wide assembly and encouraged fellow students to speak out about the impact of friends and family members who were killed or injured in crashes. A local television station covered the assembly and interviewed the students about the loss of their friends.
    Jefferson Forest organized a mock crash prior to prom and videotaped the event for the “Take Action, Don’t Be A Distraction” campaign.
    A team of students also traveled to Richmond in April for the End Distracted Driving In Every State Summit. Throughout the 2011-2012 academic year, the students at this school continued to speak out and save lives.

FMS awards
    The Forest Middle School YOVASO Club was honored with a traffic safety award at the YOVASO Awards Banquet.
    Members of the Forest Middle School YOVASO Club took home the “New Middle School Club of the Year” award for their outstanding efforts to promote traffic safety and future smart driving behavior among youth during its first year as a club.  Forest Middle School was selected for the honor for placing first in the 2012 YOVASO “Start Smart” middle school campaign.
    The school used a variety of creative messages to encourage students to buckle up and be positive passengers. The club developed and performed a safety rap for the student body, handed out safety literature to parents, set up a large thermometer to measure increase in seat belt use and invited the sheriff’s office to visit to promote the campaign.
    Forest Middle School also placed fourth in the state in the YOVASO “Take Action, Don’t Be A Distraction” campaign in which it had to compete against high schools as well as middle schools. A visit from actor Erik Estrada to talk to the students about safety was a highlight of the school’s spring campaign.

Dan Freeman
    Dan Freeman of Carilion Roanoke Memorial and resident of Bedford County was honored with the “Adult Volunteer of the Year” award at the YOVASO Awards Banquet.
    Freeman was recognized for his volunteer work with YOVASO and his outstanding efforts to promote traffic safety among youth during 2011-2012. Freeman serves on YOVASO’s Advisory Board. This year, he set up meetings to introduce YOVASO to potential funding partners and also organized a series of collaborative meetings to help YOVASO and other advocacy organizations network for events and resources.
    Freeman traveled to Richmond in April to participate in YOVASO’s End Distracted Driving In Every State Summit, served on the judging panel for the “Buckle Up, Drive Sober” campaign, served on the interview panel for the part-time Education & Training Coordinator position and attends all regularly scheduled board meetings.
    “His dedication to teen traffic safety initiatives and his contacts in the community are an invaluable asset to YOVASO,” said King.