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Friday, October 26, 2012

Students obtain boater certification as part of PE

As part of their physical education curriculum, eighth-grade students at Benjamin Franklin Middle School were able to obtain Virginia boater safety certification during the week of Oct. 15-19.

Acknowledging that some students live close to area lakes and rivers, "we hope that they learn basic safety," said Mary Safewright, eighth-grade health and physical education teacher.

According to Virginia law, individuals must be at least 14 years old and have boating safety certification before operating a personal watercraft. All persons under the age of 30 must have boating safety certification before operating a motorboat.

Members of the Smith Mountain Lake Sail & Power Squadron conducted the weeklong Boat Virginia course for the students. Four 70-minute classes were held each day with nearly 75 students in attendance in each session. Despite being a voluntary assignment, almost 98 percent of the eighth-grade gym students participated, said Art Cournoyer, SML Sail & Power Squadron boating instuctor.

This is the second year the class was offered at the middle school. Last year, 238 eighth-graders obtained certification. In February, an additional session will be taught by squadron members to students who were attending The Gereau Center for Applied Technology and Career Exploration during October.

"It's quite a deal. The Virginia Department of Inland Fisheries is excited about it, and the Power Squadron is excited about it," said Cournoyer. "It just gives [the students] a heads up for the things they want to do on the lake."