GIBSON CITY - GCMS Project Ignition leaders will be heading to Minneapolis in late March to present at the National Service-Learning Conference.

GCMS High School is one of three schools across the country selected for Project Ignition this year. GCMS has participated in the program, which empowers young people to educate other teens about the importance of seat belt usage through service-learning, since 2005. In its first year of participation, the school won the Best of the Best National Champion award.

As a Project Ignition National Leader School, GCMS has collaborated with other high schools in the past, including Fieldcrest. However, this year GCMS Project Ignition was selected to mentor Clifton Central’s SADD program.

GCMS High School Project Ignition adviser Judy Weber-Jones said she and the GCMS students are excited about being chosen to assist a nearby school.

“I have always wanted to get Clifton Central and their adviser, Eva McGill, involved in Project Ignition. They have applied but were never selected,” Weber-Jones said. “Now we finally get to share the great experience with them."

The two student groups recently worked together to design T-shirts to raise awareness about seat belt usage.

Students at both schools are comparing the seat belt usage surveys they took at the beginning of the project and are discussing activities that will improve seat belt usage at both schools.

In March, Clifton Central SADD leaders will join GCMS Project Ignition leaders in Minneapolis to share their experiences.

McGill, Central’s SADD adviser, said her students are excited to work with GCMS Project Ignition on the seat belt initiative this school year and are excited about the opportunity to join GCMS to present at the conference.

"These opportunities do not come along every day. When they do we have to take hold of them,” McGill said. “It's great that our students get a chance to work with students from another school and leave the cornfields to see a different part of our country and spread an important message at the same time."

Project Ignition is sponsored by the National Youth Leadership Council and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. GCMS will receive $1,500 from NLYC to start the project and an additional $500 at the midpoint of the project. GCMS Project Ignition was also awarded $5,000 to attend the NSLC in Minnesota.