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PLAS seniors participate in the Lutzie43 program

Pike Liberal Arts School seniors participated in the Lutzie43 program during the 2019-2020 school year.

The program, started by Mike Lutzenkirchen, honors the late Phillip Lutzenkirchen, who died in an automobile accident in 2014.

The mission of the program is to “reduce the number of distracted driving incidents, ultimately diminishing the deaths caused by unsafe driving. The foundation fulfills this mission by encouraging and empowering young people to be positive ambassadors for safe driving.

“Chip Lindsey and his wife (Cecily) are good friends with Mike,” PLAS councilor Gretta Whiddon said. “They (Chip and Cecily) approached me and discussed the program with me. They wanted to help implement the program at Pike and I was all on board with that.”

Mike Lutzenkirchen kicked off the program when he came to Pike last October to speak about the life of his son Phillip.

“We implemented the programs into our school for our seniors,” Whiddon said. “They met once a week to do the lesson and discuss things. Really just holding each accountable for doing the things that the program promotes.”

Each student picked up a book full of lessons to complete. After school was closed, students were encouraged to complete the tasks individually. The book included lessons that were written by someone close to the Lutzenkirchen family, including Alabama head coach Nick Saban. The lessons include a key word along with a definition and how to apply it. Each lesson also included a bible verse.

“They (students) really enjoyed it,” Whiddon said. “I think it kind of made them stop and think and it helped them realize the importance of one split decision. Whether it’s you getting in the car with someone who is impaired or you keeping your friend from driving. I got some really good feedback from the students.”

Each participant received a 43 key, which is symbolic of the checklist that the program encourages each driver to do before driving in a vehicle. Each participant received a 43 key to be hung on their rearview mirror.

“It encouraged them to pause and think about the responsibilities,” Whiddon said.

The program offers a scholarship to students as well. Any student can apply for the scholarship if they meet the requirements. Requirements included having at least a 2.5 GPA and they had to sign the 43 Key Seconds to Safe Driving Pledge. 15 students across the country were given the scholarships, including Pike Liberal Art’s own Porter Lankford.

With the positive feedback, Whiddon and PLAS plan to offer this program again next school year.