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Students buckle under pressure

Aviza and Culbert were pleasantly surprised that 100 percent of the students stopped at the checkpoints were wearing the appropriate safety harness.

"The more kids see this sort of thing, and the more fun they have with safety events, the better the chances are they'll remember to drive safely when they're out by themselves," said Culbert

Eighteen teams of four competed in the Battle of the Belts for a chance to win a dinner at Katie O'Byrne's restaurant in Schenectady.

Outspoken support

The seatbelt relay was tied to Sean's Run, a 5K race held annually to commemorate the 2002 death of Chatham High School student Sean Patrick French. Sean's Run provided the SADD club with a $400 grant to buy Battle of the Belt T-shirts. The shirts, designed in the school's orange and black colors, were emblazoned with the words "In Memory of Sean."

The team of Claus, Masseroni, Marco and Mora went on to win the competition, advancing to the Battle of the Belts regional competition held at the Sean's Run event on Sunday, April 26, in Chatham.

Sean Patrick French was the nephew of Mohonasen School Board President Eileen French. Eileen French has been outspoken in her support of the new SADD chapter, which was officially founded this fall.

"We have a personal connection to this issue in our district," said Patrick McGrath, principal of Mohonasen High School. "Many of our students are just receiving their drivers' licenses and we wanted to take a different and creative way to remind them about how important it is to wear a seat belt."

McGrath said he hoped to make Battle of the Belts an annual event.

"Sgt. Culbert has been very active with the new SADD, and we want to continue to provide programs that teach smart decision-making," he said.

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