Huntertown Elementary School of the Northwest Allen County School District combined education about our justice system, fun of a field trip, and community service by joining with the Fort Wayne Police Department in kicking off the annual Click it or Ticket¹ campaign to promote the use of seatbelts.
Jasmine Sloffer, 5th grade teacher at Huntertown Elementary School says this is the third year she has planned this field trip with her father, Jack Morris, a local attorney. Ms. Sloffer says she initially spoke with her father about a field trip that would include the Allen County Courthouse and it just grew into a half day program involving all Huntertown 5th graders, approximately 90 each year from four classes, where each student has the opportunity to participate in a mock jury trial and also get a tour of the historic Allen County Courthouse. The first year they used a mock trial which used the story of Goldilocks and the Three Pigs. That was good but after discussing their observations Jasmine and her dad thought they could do better.
Jasmine began a search for a better mock trial and came up with one based upon a real criminal case involving high school students riding home from school. As a result of a sudden emergency a minor collision occurs and one of the passengers hurts her shoulder. It turns out, although the driver had told everyone to ³buckle up², his front seat passenger put the shoulder strap behind her. As a result she was thrown into the window injuring her shoulder. When the investigating police officer learns the seatbelt was not worn properly he issued a ticket to the driver. The law makes it the driver¹s duty to assure passengers use their seatbelts. The driver doesn¹t think that is fair and that is the subject of the trial.
The mock trial field trip is just part of the Huntertown 5th graders study of the subject. They have been studying the U.S. Constitution through the We the People¹ program. Ms. Sloffer states they also use the case facts to discuss interpretation of laws. They have discussed what it means for a driver to make sure seatbelts are being worn: Is it enough to tell them? Is it enough to hear the clicks? Does the driver have to specifically watch each passenger put their seatbelt on? But they also talk about safety and why it is so important to make sure everyone is wearing their seatbelt.
The public message about the importance of wearing seatbelts is the community service portion of this year¹s effort. After last year¹s event it was learned May is the kick-off month for the law enforcement Click it or Ticket¹ campaign. With that knowledge contact was made with local law enforcement and the Fort Wayne Police Department wanted to participate and use this event to kick off this year¹s campaign. Lt. Mays says the FWPD wants to join these students in this effort because ³seatbelts save lives.² He says he was excited about the opportunity to combine the Click it or Ticket¹ campaign with these 5th graders because children can be a great part of making sure everyone in their cars are wearing their seatbelt, it is really everyone¹s responsibility.²