FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 10, 2006
Governor Blagojevich honors dedicated high school educator
with PATH Award
Judy Weber-Jones’ recognized for commitment
to teaching high school students how to be safe drivers
GIBSON CITY – Governor Rod Blagojevich today named
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School (GCMS) Driver Education
teacher Judy Weber-Jones as the latest recipient of the
People Are Today’s Heroes (PATH) Award for her remarkable
work helping make sure students are safe drivers. The
program created by Weber-Jones has significantly increased
seatbelt usage among young drivers, and significantly
decreased speeding tickets and accidents in the Gibson
City-Melvin-Sibley area since 2004.
“Judy is a shining example of the impact one person
with vision and strong commitment can have to make great
things happen. By teaching students how to be safe drivers,
she’s having a real impact on the life of these
kids and their community,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
“This truly makes Judy Weber-Jones one of today’s
The Governor’s PATH Award recognizes groups or
individuals who, through their hard work and commitment,
improve the lives of those in their community and help
Illinois move forward in the areas of health care, public
safety and education. The PATH Award was given to Ms.
Weber-Jones by Randy Dunn, State Superintendent of Education
on behalf of Gov. Blagojevich.
Weber-Jones led her students on a project, which was
inspired by a tragic accident caused by speeding involving
local twin brothers Steve and Greg Arends. Greg Arends
died, but his sibling lived thanks to seat belt usage.
GCMS students produced Safe Driving DVDs, original soundtracks,
and PowerPoint presentations that were shown school-wide
and throughout the community.
“The Illinois State Board of Education and educators
around the state applaud Ms. Weber-Jones’s work
to help the children in her community stay healthy and
safe,” said Superintendent Dunn.
Students at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School in
Gibson City were inspired to participate in the 2005-2006
Project Ignition program, largely because of the tragic
Arends accident. Project Ignition, sponsored by State
Farm and coordinated by the National Youth Leadership
Council, gives high school students and their teachers
a unique opportunity to work together in addressing the
critical issues of teen driver safety and how it affects
them, their community and the world around them.
Assemblies, a mock accident, seat belt convincer, roll
over demonstration and fatal vision goggles and golf carts
were coordinated with local police, fire, EMT, hospital,
coroner and funeral homes. The impact on the student population
According to local statistics, since the program was
started in the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley area:
- Seat belt usage increased: Freshmen 65.8% to 86.3%;
Sophomores 75.9% to 94.3%; Juniors 71.6% to 84.0%; Seniors
67.95% to 93.8%
- Speeding tickets decreased: for 16-18 year olds decreased
from 7 to 2
- Accidents decreased: for 16-18 year olds decreased
from 30 to 10; for age 19 and older decreased from 19
To learn more about the project, visit: http://www.gcms.k12.il.us/gcmshs/Project%20Ignition/