West Shamokin to Participate in Student Driver Study

West Shamokin High School students that drive to school will now be monitored as part of a study of the habits of teen drivers.

The Armstrong School District school board last night approved an agreement between West Shamokin High School and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

According to school principal Dr. Stephen Shutters, IUP chose West Shamokin to do research on student drivers that will input data into the statewide system.

“They want to get a feel for what’s happening with youth drivers throughout the state,” Shutters told the Kittanning Paper.

“The student drivers will be observed when they are driving as they come in or out of the school complex,” he continued. “They will count how many times student drivers had their seat belts on, or if they were on their cell phones, and things like that.”

The research is part of IUP’s Novice Driver Education and West Shamokin’s school-wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support System.

Shutters said that the survey will be conducted several times throughout the school year, and alternate between morning, when students are arriving at school and afternoon as student drivers leave the campus.

This is not the first time that West Shamokin has focused its attention on student drivers.

“We have had police officers come in and just take a survey and we give that information back to our driver’s ed teacher. The driver’s ed teacher then reviews it with student drivers and reminds them to focus on safe driving procedures.”

As part of the research study, IUP donated $500 to West Shamokin for their Positive Rewards program.

“The rewards program is well-known throughout the school,” Shutters said. “We continually look for students who are making improvements, doing things well and try to highlight those examples. It is a way of catching them doing good, positive behavior. So, this gift of $500 will extend it to the parking lot, their driving, everything from parking to speed.”

Shutters said that the Positive Rewards program is facilitated by teachers and staff. They observe students on a daily basis and select students that exhibit exceptional behavior.

“If a student is found to be worthy, they get what we call it a Wolf Pass. Teachers write the student’s name in a book and pull a name out from everybody who got one, and they get a small prize,” Shutters said.

He said a typical prize would be gift certificates to places like Dairy Queen or Walmart.  He said that at the conclusion of a nine-week grading period, students are selected for an even larger prize, such as a Chromebook laptop.