Board remembers students killed in recent accidents

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By Tom Wilmoth

    The Bedford County School Board opened last Thursday’s meeting with a moment of silence in memory of two Liberty High School students killed in separate accidents over the prior two weeks.
    But the board’s discussion of those accidents didn’t stop there. Proactive measures to prevent future deaths were suggested by both administration officials and board members.
    During his report, Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch said, looking forward, the school system needs to evaluate what it can do to further encourage seat belt use among the county’s students.
    A Franklin County car crash killed Liberty High School student Hannah Marie Long, 15. on Oct. 13. She was not wearing a seat belt according to the report from the Virginia State Police.
    And the Sunday before, Lewis Allen Dickenson, also 15, died in a wreck on U.S. 460 in Bedford County. Dickenson was a passenger in a vehicle that ran off the road, struck an embankment and overturned several times just after midnight Oct. 7.
    Current school initiatives in seat belt use include programs in the health classes, through Youth of Virginia Speak Out clubs on the school campuses and through the School Resource Officers located at the schools. “Looking forward, we need to look at what we’re doing,” Dr. Schuch said.
    Dr. Schuch noted that seat belt use is a habit that begins at an early age, but he said a strategy needs to be added to the school system’s strategic plan to address the issue.
    District 1 board member Richard Downey suggested putting together a task force made up of a number of organizations to address the issue. He said the plan needs to have as its goal making seat belt use “a priority with our students.”
    He said it needs to be a concerted effort among the groups that deal with these issues.