Ocean City High School Students Win Bike Safety Contest

Ocean City High School Students Win Bike Safety Contest

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Four Ocean City High School students in the TV/Media Production program received checks for their Public Service Announcements on bicycle safety Tuesday. From left in front, seniors Alexa Johnson and Aili Martin with juniors Jacob Schneider and Zach Card. In back from left, Tom Heist, chairman of bikeocnj.org, media teacher Greg Wheeldon and Sergeant Brian Hopely of the Traffic Safety Unit.

By Maddy Vitale

A young man hops on his bike and rides off. A driver in a van is traveling down the road.

Then it happens.

The bicyclist pedals through an intersection, disregarding a stop sign, right into the lane of the motorist.

Before the driver could stop, it is too late.

The Public Safety Announcement is dramatic and luckily, has a rewind, showing how a good decision of putting the brakes on at the stop sign, likely saved a life. The clip is 30 seconds long, but powerful.

And it was created by two Ocean City High School juniors, Zach Card, 17, and Jacob Schneider, 17, in the school’s TV/Media Production program, with the expert tutelage of teacher Greg Wheeldon and engineer Steve Trauger.

Seniors Alexa Johnson, 18, and Aili Martin, 18, didn’t have as serious a message, yet it was just as strong.

The duo orchestrated a clip on why riding on the sidewalk just doesn’t make sense.

In the amusing 30-second PSA, Alexa showers with her bike and gear on, helmet and all. She also eats with it and goes to sleep with it.

The next scene you see a bicyclist taking up a sidewalk, bumping two people with the bikes large handlebars.

These four students won a contest on bicycle safety with their PSAs. The students could select from different topics on bicycle safety including obeying traffic signs, the importance of riding with the flow of traffic, why you shouldn’t ride on the sidewalk and why you should always wear a safety helmet.

The students didn’t even know what their prize would be until Tuesday, when they were presented with checks each in the amount of $750 in scholarship money given to them by the Ocean City Police Department PBA Local 61 and Tom Heist, of Heist Insurance, chairman of www.bikeocnj.org.

Before presenting, the checks to the winners, Sgt. Brian Hopely of the Traffic Safety Unit, and Heist, commented on the dedication of the students and how vital it is for the public to know about bicycle safety.

“Our Police Chief and the PBA got together with Tom Heist to fund this,” Hopely said before the ceremony. “One of the things the public really wants is more information about bicycle safety. We wanted a public safety message that was done in a fun way, that would still be enlightening.”

Heist said it was a difficult decision, because all the PSAs were well done. He also said bicycle safety should always be followed, but this time of year, especially, with new people coming to the island all the time, bicyclists have to be prepared.

After presentation, the students said they would use the funds for college. Aili said she might put some away for spending money and Jake said he may buy some production equipment.

Wheeldon said 15 of his students, from sophomores to seniors, created the announcements and that they all put a lot of effort into what they produced.

Students were assigned the instructions for the PSAs in March and started on them in April. From brainstorming, to making the short commercials, it took students about a month, the winners noted Tuesday.

“You need a powerful message,” Wheeldon said of the PSAs, adding that the ones chosen certainly had strong messages.

Although two of the winners are graduating and said they would like to continue with production at college, Wheeldon said he knows what he would like Card and Schneider to do.

“They will be executive producers next year,” he said of the school’s program’s show Current OC.

He said Alexa has been one of the best on-air personalities in the program and Aili is fantastic at editing and writing.

Wheeldon said next year they will incorporate the freshmen into the contest with their teacher Walter Johnson.

The winning PSAs will air throughout the summer on Upper Township’s local Channel 2, Ocean City’s Channel 9, Ocean City’s webpage www.ocnj.us and www.bikeocnj.org. To watch Current OC visit www.OC-TV.org

Ocean City High School