Local teens put driving skills to test for big bucksBy SHEILA BOUGHNER
It isn't every day teenagers get a chance at winning $1,000.
But 19 juniors and seniors from area high schools had a shot at the $1,000 first-place, $500 second-place and $300 dollar third-place prizes in the Venango-Forest Regional Teen Driving Competition Wednesday at the Rocky Grove fire hall.
All area juniors and seniors who have been driving for a year without accidents or moving violations were eligible to participate. After taking a pre-test at their school, those with the top three scores moved on to the competition Wednesday.
Jonathan Verhoff, a junior at
Venango Catholic High School in
Oil City, tries his best to navigate
the driver's side wheels through
two rows of tennis balls, hitting
as few as possible.
(By Jerry Sowden)
There, they learned a number of lessons about safe driving and put their skills to the test on a written exam, a distracted driving simulation and a slow-speed driving course.
For the distracted driving simulation, students sat at station outfitted with a steering wheel, gas and brake pedals. The road rolled out ahead of them on a video monitor, and as they drove along, various distractions were added to the mix: a ball rolling into the street, two deer crossing the road, and most distracting, the voice of a female passenger, who provided directions and made suggestions (such as asking the driver to text her brother).
At every station, students received useful advice.
At the simulator, they were told that "anybody not wearing a seatbelt is the most dangerous thing in the car" if there is an accident and were advised to require all their passengers to buckle up.
They also learned about insurance rates, and what can drive them up and what can bring them down, from State Farm insurance agents Roger Baker, Sandy Hovis and Joan Lipinski, who provided the top prizes.
In the parking lot, the real driving test required students to complete a variety of driving maneuvers including passing through a serpentine course marked by cones without stopping and passing the driver's side wheels through a narrow path marked by tennis balls balanced on pedestals.
Every error, bumped cone or displaced tennis ball resulted in deductions from the driver's score.
The students also had to examine a parked vehicle for defects that might impact safety, such as a cracked tail light.
A. Crivelli provided the vehicles used for the event.
While in the parking lot, the students also had the chance to climb into the cabs of two trucks, one from Engles Trucking and the other from Con-way Freight.
One offered the students a chance to see how long-haul truckers live and to check out the bunk area behind the driver's seat.
The other truck was surrounded by police vehicles, parked in the truck's blind spots. From the driver's seat and the view in the mirrors, it appeared as if the truck was all alone.
"When you get in that truck, you see nothing," truck driver Dale Knox of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA), one of the organizers of the event, told the students. "But you've got cars all around you. That's what I see every day."
"All of you are champions," Knox told the students at the start of the day. "You drove a whole year without an accident. That's great. But every year, the challenges get bigger. Take what you learn today, take it to heart and take it back and share it with the other students."
At the end of the day, the winners included Wesley Schettler of West Forest High School in first place, Haley Nerlich of Rocky Grove High School in second place and Jonathan Verhoff of Venango Catholic High School in third place.
As the top finisher, Schettler will go on to the state competition, where he will have a shot at $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 scholarships.
Participants also included Kelton Burkhart, Caleb Carrow and Kylie Mason of Cranberry; Daniel DiCorpo of East Forest; Casey Boyer, Faxon Hadden-Maxwell and Quinn Heffern of Franklin; Evan Carll, Sydney Eisenman and Michael Moon of Oil City; Samantha Metzgar and Shawn Wise of Rocky Grove; Larissa Schwab and Alexis O'Toole of West Forest; and Jennifer Peterson and Corry Schettler of Venango Catholic.
Every participant received a medal, a T-shirt and a 75-piece vehicle emergency kit, provided by the Department of Health's Northwest Regional Highway Safety Network.
While the event, organized by the Venango and Forest county sheriff's departments, was the first teen driving competition for the two local counties, the competitions began in 1991 through the efforts of the PMTA and are held in a dozen regions across the state.
Knox said this year's events will mark the sixth for Erie County and the third for Crawford County.
"And they are growing," he said. "What better way of educating our students than when they are just starting out driving?"
Geoffrey T. Crankshaw, project coordinator for the Northwest Regional Highway Safety Network, said the hope is that the participants will model the safe driving behavior for younger students "and show them there are rewards for that."
Sponsors also included Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and East Central AAA.
Originally published in The Derrick on April 19, 2012.
VC Featured in Faith Magazine
VC alumni Joseph Janidlo was part of a contingent of seminarians who served Mass with the Pope. Check out the Faith magazine article (pgs 10-12) here.
VC's website launch is featured in the Nov / Dec Faith Magazine! Check out the article on page 28.
- Margaret Feldman Writing Winners
- VC students to compete in state science competition
- VC inducts 14 into Honor Society
- More graduates, supporters share VC memories
- Special day at VC brings many memories, smiles
- Venango Catholic going strong at 50 while looking toward future
- 50 Year Celebration
- Vikings capture title
- OC man will be escort for Obama at Army-Navy game
- Lending some helping hands
- VC student wins Applefest logo contest
- Cranberry Festival king and queen announced
- VC headmaster leaves post with mixed emotions
- St. Joe's last graduating class to celebrate 50-year reunion
- St. Joe Class of '62 graduates share memories
- Class wants to greet other St. Joseph students at Friday get-together
- 30 graduate from VC
- Samantha Hugar Awarded the Egan Scholarship for Academic Excellence
- Top students named at VC
- VC student named National Merit finalist
- Ex-Vikings star in rugby at Franciscan
- VCHS Names Prom King and Queen
- Venango Catholic High School Holds NHS Inductions
- Venango Catholic High School Prom Candidates
- Local teens put driving skills to test for big bucks
- Willy Wonka
- VC Students Attend Shakespeare Competition
- Venango Catholic Cheerleaders Visit Head Start Students
- VC 58, West Forest 51
- VC Students Participate in District Chorus
- Catholic Schools Week ends with events at VC
- VC Alum Awarded Third Prize in National Competition
- John Carroll honors former Viking Lutz
- Gearing up for Friends giveaway
- Venango Catholic math team finishes third in competition
- Four area stars make collegiate debuts
- Fryburg Naval commander writes from Arabian Sea
- Venango Catholic names homecoming king, queen
- Vikings clinch KSAC golf title
- Venango Catholic homecoming dance set Saturday
- Venango Catholic High School presented with U.S. Flag
- It's Back to the Books for Some
- VC graduate finds she has mission in life
- AC Scholar-Athlete-of-the-Month
- St. Joseph Class of 1961 holds 50-year reunion
- Hawkins takes top spot in tournament
- Hawkins takes first
- Ex-Viking Rynd to play hoops at the Rock
- Lutz earns academic honors
- VENANGO CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL AWARDED OVER $85,000 IN GRANT FUNDING
- VCHS Presents "Touchtone 'M' for Murder"
- Media Celebrity
- OC Kiwanis honors scholarship winners, Hugh O'Brian seminar participants
- 15 graduates receive diplomas at VC
- Venango Catholic names top students
- Venango Catholic National Honor Society Inductees
- VC academic team in Hometown High-Q semis
- Venango Catholic Students Participate in Wash Day
- Venango Catholic Crowns Prom King, Queen
- Fryburg native named commander of Carrier Strike Group Three
- Students do well at English festival
- St. Joseph announces Service Award recipients
- Students Compete, Win at Science Olympiad
- Vikings' Rynd named D-9 boys Player of the Year
- Local stars shine in Kozel all-star contests
- Final 2010-11 Area Girls Basketball Scoring Leaders
- Final 2010-11 Boys Basketball Scoring Leaders
- Former Marble man honored in special Mass
- The streak goes on
- Perfect to the Maxx
- ONE YEAR LATER, VC ALUM RECALLS SERVING MASS FOR THE POPE
- VC CHEERLEADERS TALK TO STUDENTS ABOUT ATHLETIC PARTICIPATION
- Vikings stay perfect
- Venango Catholic remains undefeated
- Big game dream come true for Packers fans in Steelers country
- STEELERS TOUCH DOWN IN DALLAS
- Vikings slip past Lions
- 17 VC students attend March for Life
- Good Luck Vikings
- Several area players earn all-state honors
- Vikings ground Falcons
- Venango Catholic advances in KDKA High-Q event
- VC math team places fifth in competition
- AP SCHOLARS
- Friends for Food passes $36,000 mark
- Right on target
- Venango Catholic marks anniversary of predecessor
- VC graduate returns from Iraq deployment
- Venango Catholic Names Homecoming King, Queen
- Venango Catholic launches new website
- Vikings open with pair of victories
- VC grad completes sub-internship at Cleveland medical facility
- Oil City native receives business award from San Antonio chamber
- 19 receive diplomas at Venango Catholic graduation
- Pragle, Hesdon head KSAC teams
- Ex-Viking Lutz honored
- OC woman elected to student position for physicians group
- Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark visits school
- Venango Catholic High School Receives IT KickStart Grant
- VC student accepts appointment to West Point
- OC girl to get Girl Scout Gold Award
- Rynd surpasses 1,000-point mark
- VC, St. Patrick, St. Stephen set for Catholic Schools Week
- Ex-Viking DeLaney places at Bucknell