In February, only 65 percent of students at New Oxford High School were wearing seat belts while driving. In April, that number jumped to 91 percent.

On Wednesday, the school was recognized for the achieving the largest increase among 10 schools in York and Adams counties for the fifth annual York/Adams High School Seat Belt Challenge.

"That's unbelievable," Wayne Harper, the director of Center for Traffic Safety in York, said.

The challenge: The York Area Highway Safety Council monitored each school in Adams and York counties on one day during the week of Feb. 1. The students were monitored as they drove into and out of the schools.

The results were then given to each school, and the schools were then invited to enter the competition. Ten schools competed, and in April they were monitored again, looking at overall usage percentage and improvement.

Many schools offered incentives for students to increase their seat belt usage during the competition. York Catholic did not.

York Catholic was recognized for having the highest overall usage, with 95 percent.

Heather Hoffman, director of admissions at York Catholic, said she always knew the students were responsible.

"This is just another thing that shows that they are," she said.

Sophomore Lexi Zambito, 16, president of the York Catholic's Students Against Destructive Decisions, was happy with the recognition.

"I think its cool that we had a 95 percent ... if no one even knew," she said.

Harper said York Catholic started with 94 percent of the students using their seat belts, so the school did not have much room to improve.

Between all 10 schools, seat belt usage increased from 75 percent to 90 percent during the challenge. Harper said no school saw seat belt usage decrease.

The two winning schools received mini-grants of $500 as well as a free photo booth to use at each of their proms, both from State Farm Insurance. The grants will be used to promote traffic safety in the schools.

The schools that competed were: Eastern York, Fairfield, Hanover, New Oxford, Northeastern, South Western, Spring Grove, Susquehannock, York Catholic and York Suburban.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at

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