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Students buckle under pressure

It's not your typical relay race.

Rob Claus, Alex Massaroni, Chris Marco and Mike Mora step up to the starting line, and on the official's whistle, they rush to an open van.

They climb into its four seats, strap on their safety belts as fast as they can and raise their arms above their heads.

Go, says the official.

The four Mohonasen seniors jump out of the vehicle and each runs to a different seat inside the van, repeating the process.

This time, Claus pulls too hard on the seat belt and nearly falls out of his seat. The crowd of more than 100 students and teachers laugh.

Still, the team keeps going and after all four members have successfully put on their safety belt in each of the van's four seats, they listen for their time.

"Thirty-seven-point-eight-two seconds," says the official.

"That's the best time of the day," says Sgt. Tom Culbert, a student resource officer who arranged for Mohonasen High School students to participate in the school's inaugural Battle of the Belts relay challenge, an event that reminds high school students to buckle up.

Raising awareness

Culbert is the advisor for Mohonasen's Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club, which organized the event.

He said the challenge is part of several initiatives by the SADD club that takes a proactive look at how to prevent unsafe behavior.

Skylar Aviza, SADD club president, said she was impressed with the enthusiasm students, teachers and administrators had for the Battle of the Belts.

"I'm really glad a lot of people participated," said Aviza. "Not only did we get kids in lunch or study hall to participate, but we were able to have a lot of kids get a pass to come here during class."

Last week, the members of the SADD club set up a random seatbelt checkpoint outside of the school to get the word out about Battle of the Belts.

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