Think Fast and Think Fun were the Focus at Driving Ed Assembly

Bruce Moran, Journalistic Editor

The mission was to engage the students and have them educated on the rules and the safety of the road.

And think was the word mostly used by an organization that carries that crucial term in its title.

ThinkFast Interactive, which is headquartered in Michigan, is focused on numerous challenges that confront teenagers.

Here is a summary that is published on its website:

ThinkFast was developed in 1997 as a program that would non-intrusively expose participants to and educate them on important information on hard-to-tackle topics, i.e. the consequences of underage drinking, drug use, bullying, traffic safety distracted driving, etc., while simultaneously entertaining them in a safe, relaxed and fun environment. The goal was to use our expertise in entertainment production to develop an interesting educational program that would directly engage hundreds of individuals for the entire duration of the presentation.

On Wednesday, March 22, the sophomore students from Bridgewater-Raritan High School experienced this lively and informative program when ThinkFast representatives put on an educational and fun performance on the stage of the school’s auditorium.

The students, who were divided up into two sessions on March 22, have recently completed their Drivers’ Education course.

Kathy DeBonis, one of the high school’s Health and Physical Education Teachers, revealed how ThinkFast made a pit stop at Bridgewater-Raritan.

“We received a grant from the Traffic Safety Program from Somerset and Hunterdon counties,” Ms. DeBonis said. “The ThinkFast Interactive presentation is one hour and they are customizable regarding the subject matter. We choose Distracted Driving, Impaired Driving, and GDL (Graduated Driving Licensing) as ours.”

She explained further.

“The information was presented to the students in the form of a competitive game show with students split into teams of three or four. The game show was fast-paced and very much designed to connect with the students at their level through music and pop culture subject matter.”

During this robust presentation, the students merged as teams of four and each squad received a remote to click on answers to various questions that dealt with safe driving as well as some that directed students off the road and were under that category of pop culture. A DJ played lively music throughout the show.

The host of the show for ThinkFast was Peter Giambalvo, whose energy was absorbed by the attentive audience. That, he confirmed, is a reason for this type of presentation.

“We want to get them to think. It is important to make this information for the kids fun and entertaining,”  Mr. Giambalvo said. “We want to keep them engaged and they are interactive with the remotes they use throughout.”

During the presentation, a few of the Bridgewater-Raritan students competed in a dance contest and a question-and-answer test on stage.

At the conclusion, one team was brought to the stage and was crowned the overall champion. The award was a $100 gift card to Amazon.

Dave Guglietti, who is the school district’s Supervisor of Health and Physical Education, took in the presentations and came away impressed.

“The students enjoyed the experience, they were able to work with each other to answer trivia questions, and some were even able to show off their talents, but each and every one of them walked out of the assembly with more knowledge to ensure they are safe behind the wheel,” Mr. Guglietti said. “We are all very excited about that aspect and the message this program put forth.”

He placed the credit of the success of this project to his staff.

“The Drivers Education Teachers, Ms. (Kathie) DeBonis, Ms. (Sandy) Baranowski, Ms. (Lydia) Pinto, Ms. (Michele) Kussmaul, Mr. (Dylan) D’Ambrosio and Mr. (Mike) Denver did an incredible job coordinating this assembly and making it happen for our students,” Mr. Guglietti said.  “They deserve all of the credit.”