LCPS YOVASO, Officers Honored

LCPS YOVASO, Officers Honored
Posted on 07/01/2019

Several awards are headed to their new home at Louisa County Public Schools, and they show that safety is a top priority at the school division.


Louisa County High School earned three awards during the annual Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO) Awards Banquet on Wednesday, June 19th at James Madison University. YOVASO is Virginia’s peer-to-peer education and prevention program for teen driver safety. YOVASO annually honors clubs across the Commonwealth that encourage their fellow classmates to practice safe habits behind the wheel of a vehicle.


For the 2018-2019 school year, LCHS won the following three awards:


-   Occupant Protection Award: given in recognition of a club’s outstanding programs and activities that encourage safety belt use among youth and teens.

-   Outstanding Club Recognition: given in recognition of clubs that have previously received the Club of the Year Award and continue to maintain the same high level of performance and best practices for peer-to-peer traffic safety programs.

-   YOVASO Club of the Year: given in recognition of a member club that has established and set the standard for best practices in peer-led youth traffic safety programs. This award recognizes excellence in student leadership and club development, community outreach, engagement of the student body, effectiveness of programming, and participation in YOVASO campaigns and retreats.


Sgt. Rob Sarnoski with the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office serves as Louisa County Public Schools’ lead School Resource Officer and the school division’s YOVASO club sponsor. He credited the hard work of club members for the success.


“I'm absolutely thrilled to see our high school YOVASO Club recognized for its efforts promoting teen vehicle safety,” Sgt. Sarnoski said. “Our club members worked hard throughout the academic year highlighting YOVASO's key messages – SLOW DOWN, TXT LATER, BUCKLE UP NOW – at school and in the community.  What I'm most proud of, however, is the fact we have a selfless group of teens dedicated to educating, encouraging, and empowering their peers to make smart choices behind the wheel and as passengers.”


YOVASO events are consistently held throughout the year at Louisa County High School. One powerful example is the Arrive Alive Motor Vehicle Crash Reenactment, where students receive an up-close look at what it looks and sounds like at the scene of a crash. The school division also regularly hosts guest speaker Kristen Mallory, who was seriously injured at the age of 16 after the vehicle she was riding in was struck by a drunk driver. YOVASO club members also encourage their fellow students to sign safety pledges, where they promise to practice safe habits behind the wheel of a vehicle.

LCHS principal Lee Downey said the club’s efforts have undoubtedly helped keep their fellow classmates safer on the road.  

“The YOVASO club, Sgt. Sarnoski, and our entire team of SROs have made a huge impact on our students here at LCHS,” Downey said. “Their goal – which I share whole-heartedly – is to keep our students safe. The club’s efforts have been tremendous.  We have a ONE Family theme here at LCHS, and emphasizing safety is one way we can show the students that we care and that we mean what we say. I appreciate everything that YOVASO has done for LCHS and I hope their efforts continue long into the future.”


Louisa County Public Schools can also take pride in the seven School Resource Officers (SROs) assigned to the school division as well. During the awards ceremony, the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office was recognized with the School Resource Officers of the Year Award! The award is given to a group of SROs that demonstrate ongoing support to traffic safety clubs and their driving safety initiatives.


At the start of the 2018-2019 school year, LCPS and the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office partnered to place an SRO at each of the division’s four elementary schools, as well as another three SROs for the division’s middle and high school campuses. The move increased the number of SROs in the school division from three to seven, and it made LCPS one of the first school divisions in the Commonwealth to have an SRO for each school.


The increase in SROs on staff was made at the request of the school division’s Safe Schools Task Force, which was formed in early 2018 by superintendent Doug Straley. The group is comprised of parents, state and local law enforcement officers, school staff, elected officials, community members, and state emergency management officials.


Sgt. Sarnoski said the school division’s commitment to safety is creating a truly unique atmosphere at LCPS


“SROs are present in every Louisa County public school to help provide a safe and secure setting so that teachers and administrators can do what they do best - deliver a world-class education to our children,” Sgt. Sarnoski said. “We're fortunate to have an extremely dynamic and dedicated team of SROs willing to support students, faculty, staff, and parents 24/7.”


And as the 2019-2020 school year inches closer and closer, Sgt. Sarnoski said he has good reason to believe that LCPS will continue to provide a safe and inviting atmosphere and that his fellow SROs will build even more positive relationships with students.


“What really makes Louisa County SROs extraordinary is simple -- what we do is not a job, it's our passion,” Sgt. Sarnoski said. “We love every one of our kids.  Keeping them safe and helping them make smart choices for their future is what we're all about.”


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