Cullin Morris was sitting in band class when he received a text message alerting him of his prize: an iPad.
The Montgomery Blair High School freshman was selected in a random drawing of more than 1,300 student entries for correctly answering pedestrian-safety-related questions as part of a campaign launched April 25 at Blair encouraging students to “See Them See You,” or make eye contact with drivers and look both ways before crossing the street with the theme.
Morris, of Silver Spring, said that when he learned he had won, he was so excited he accidentally took his trumpet to his next class and left his backpack in band.
“I did not expect to ever have an iPad. This is just amazing,” he said after Thursday’s presentation by Blair’s Principal Renay Johnson.
Twelve students also were chosen at random for $20 Chipotle gift cards last month for their participation.
The questions sent by text messages to students three times each week asked questions such as “About how many pedestrians were struck by vehicles last year in Montgomery County?” When students responded correctly, they received a response that would remind them to “make eye contact with drivers” when walking. If they got the question wrong, a response would tell them “The answer was 400” followed by the same reminder.
Jeff Dunckel, the pedestrian safety coordinator for the county’s Department of Transportation, said a work group was created with Blair after research showed that the Four Corners area had elevated pedestrian safety concerns and that about 60 percent of that traffic consisted of students. Eight students — two from each grade — took ownership of the campaign and reclaimed the word “SWAG” for good pedestrian behavior (“See Them See You,” “Wait for the Walk,” “Always Use Crosswalks” and “Go Reflecting” — a campaign that Dunckel said will start in the fall).
“This is just a start. We want to work here for another year after building a relationship with the school,” said Dunckel, who hopes to soon branch into the school’s surrounding community. “That’s critical to the development of this good, collaborative relationship.”
This program comes on the heels of the school’s Best Eyes Contest promoting eye contact with drivers. The winners had their eyes printed on a banner that uses the phrase “Hey you, I’m looking at you!” which Johnson said will be displayed on school buses across the county beginning in the fall.
“Traffic in the area was a concern for our students,” said Johnson, who said the operation was “really student-driven” because “they know what other students like and will buy into.”