by Chris Schultz April 28, 2016
DELAVAN — It’s the high point of the Operation Click annual luncheon.
The center of attention is a like-new used car from Kunes Country Auto Group, Delavan.
In this case, a dark blue 2012 Ford Focus.
Attention is also focused on a bowl holding keys, only one of which will turn on the light bar on the car.
Whoever inserts that key and starts the lights rolling, wins the car, free and clear.
Selected students from the seven participating high schools in the Walworth County chapter of Operation Click reach up into a bowl, pull out a key and with a lot of trepidation and hope insert the key into a lock.
Schools in the program are Badger, Big Foot, Catholic Central of Burlington, Delavan-Darien, East Troy, Elkhorn and Williams Bay .
The first two to try were Katelyn O’Brien and Natalie Stratton of Williams Bay High School.
And to their disappointment, the first two turns of the first two keys produced … nothing.
Third time was a charm, however.
Katrina Santos, 18, of East Troy High School had the key that set the yellow light bar flashing.
Santos later said she has a car, but it’s a 1998 and “It’s not the best.”
The other students, most of whom never had a chance to even sit in the car, received consolation gift cards from Operation Click.
Sean McGrath, a Crystal Lake, Illinois, police officer and founder of Operation Click, announced that this was the fifth year for the program in Walworth County.
Operation Click is run by the students. It involves a contract that students sign pledging them to:
n Stay in school.
n Never text and drive.
n Never drink and drive.
n Wear seatbelts at all times while driving or riding in a car.
n Receive no citations for traffic, seatbelt or alcohol-relative violations.
n Keep a clean disciplinary record in school.
Students who successfully participate in the program are invited to an Operation Click Awards Banquet in the spring at which participating schools, students and other community organizers are recognized.
Representatives of law enforcement agencies in Walworth County are also invited to attend.
Each school is required to perform four mandatory seat belt compliance checks of students coming to or leaving school grounds.
Students who practice safe driving all of the time increase their odds for winning the car.
According to McGrath, this year’s Operation Click Wisconsin Car Giveaway was a bit different from previous years.
For one thing, Walworth County is no longer the only Wisconsin chapter.
Rock County is now a Wisconsin chapter and Waukesha and Jefferson counties have also joined as a chapter this year.
And, said McGrath, another chapter was recently founded in Haywood County, Tennessee.
McGrath said the program is growing because it has a proven track record in getting students to treat driving safety seriously. Operation Click started in Crystal Lake’s three high schools in 1998.
It now has nine chapters in three states, five in Illinois, three in Wisconsin and one in Tennessee, with 46 high schools represented in those nine chapters.
The program aims to reduce teen fatalities and injuries from motor vehicle crashes by developing safe driving habits through education and positive reinforcement.
Operation Click has helped increase seatbelt use among students in the schools that are a part of the program, McGrath said. In fact, McGrath said, seatbelt use among teens is above 90 percent.
The new goal is to get teens to stop texting and driving. It was a problem that didn’t exist 15 years ago, McGrath said.
Source: Lake Geneva Regional News