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Seneca Valley Senior Receives $2,150 Grant to Keep Students Safe Behind the Wheel

Kaitlyn Burkett is using the money to bring hands-on training to her peers.

Seneca Valley senior Kaitlyn Burkett has been awarded a $2,150 grant from the FOCUS project to help keep Seneca Valley students safe when they get behind the wheel.

She applied for the grant to help with her senior project—which focuses on safe driving.

Burkett is using the money and working with Students Against Destructive Decisions to bring hands-on training to her peers before prom next spring.

The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has partnered with The Allstate Foundation to develop the “FOCUS - Action Against Distraction” driver simulation project.

The simulator uses high-definition video scenes and gaming technology to create unique situations that may be too dangerous to experience while driving a real automobile. The program focuses exclusively on distracted and impaired driving, allowing students to see the consequences of both.

Along with the FOCUS simulator, SADD also will bring in the Pennsylvania “DUI Safety Bug” to campus and create a mock crash.

The Safety Bug is a custom engineered Volkswagen that creates an impaired driving experience. The car—not the driver—is “drunk.”

The mock crash has been around as long as SADD itself. It can be a shocking and memorable event for teachers, parents, and students alike, as it is a real-looking crash site.

Because recent studies have shown that “scare tactics” have only a limited effect on people’s behavior and safety in the community, Burkett wanted to bring the additional safe driving program to her school.

In order to accept the grant, Kaitlyn had to create a project outline and will need to complete a final report explaining what kind of impact the project had on Seneca Valley students.

Representatives for the FOCUS project said the competition for grant money was particularly strong this year. They congratulated Kaitlyn on presenting a well-developed plan for using the grant money.

"It is extremely admirable that Katilyn chose such an important and relevant issue to focus her senior project on," said Ashley Zaso, an English teacher at Seneca Valley Senior High School. "Driving safety is something that affects all of us on a daily basis, and her hard work to obtain grant money for our local chapter of SADD is much appreciated.

On behalf of the students in our organization, we thank Kaitlyn and cannot wait to put the grant money to use this spring as we prepare a safe driving event for the start of prom and graduation season."

—Article submitted by Seneca Valley School District. Have news you'd like to share with Patch readers? Email Editor Jessica Sinichak at jessica.sinichak@patch.com or visit our Pics & Clips Gallery

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