Lakes, watercraft and marinas are in abundance in the Wawasee area. Beginning with the 2013-14 academic year, students of Wawasee High School and other schools in the cooperative will have an opportunity to learn skills associated with marine trades.
During Tuesday evening’s regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee Community School Corp. board of trustees, Kim Nguyen, director of the Wawasee Area Career & Technical Cooperative, gave a report to the board about the newly formed marine trades program. It will be part of the career and technical course offerings and junior and senior students from West Noble and Fairfield high schools can also take the courses since they are part of the career and technical cooperative.
Later in the school board meeting, the board approved the purchase of the former Precision Automotive building at a cost of $265,000, plus $20,000 for specified equipment, near the high school campus in Syracuse where the marine trades program will be held.
Nguyen noted the official Indiana Department of Education terminology for the program will classify it as recreational and portable power equipment with a focus on marine trades. A maximum of six credits per year can be earned in the program.
Marine trades will expose students to all aspects of the mechanical operation of a boat, pontoon, personal watercraft and trailer, according to a brochure provided by Nguyen. Hands-on experiences will be offered for inboards, outboards, driving boats, troubleshooting boat problems, fuel and cooling systems, fiberglass repairs and much more.
Instructors must have a specialized license in the marine industry given through a Ball State University program. Nguyen said he has heard from three people so far who are interested in being instructors.
Since the program is new, Nguyen noted, the curriculum will be experimental in the early stages. A basic course will be offered, as well as a more advanced course.
A survey was given to 211 students and 54 indicated they would be interested in taking a marine trades course. Nguyen provided a detailed budget analysis to the school board with start-up costs and indicated it would cost $91,395.90 to run the program the first year if new equipment is used, or $72,844.40 if the equipment is not new.
Precision Automotive plans to be out of the building completely by June 1.
In other business, in response to the two high school student suicides earlier in the school year and two attempts last week, WHS Principal Don Harman gave a report to the board on what is being done.
Youth speaker Jeff Yalden spoke to the student body the morning of Jan. 31 and then in the evening to the public. Yalden spent time with the students during the day and has also kept in touch through Facebook and Twitter. Harman has spoken to Yalden several times about the possibility of Yalden creating a video specifically addressed to WHS students.
WHS administrators have met with staff members to provide guidance on how to answer questions from students. Harman has provided the opportunity for students to meet with him Friday morning in the auditorium to talk about their needs. Syracuse-Wawasee Ministerial Association will host a prayer service at 6 p.m. Sunday in the high school auditorium.
The youth motivation program “Break the Grey” has been tentatively scheduled for April 10-11 at both middle schools, the high school and a community program, too. Students have approached Harman about producing videos to show to students. The WHS studio has been made available to create videos that will be reviewed by staff before being released.
Harman has been in contact with Chris Ochs, father of one of the students who committed suicide, and who wants to create a video to be sent to all students at WHS. A parent meeting focused on creating more school spirit and pride is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at the high school. More is being done to address student needs and Harman noted both students who attempted suicide last week do plan to return to school.
It was also noted that, if no more cases of Chicken Pox are discovered at Milford School by Thursday, the eight students currently out of school will be allowed to return.
For a more in-depth account of the school board meeting, see today’s issue of The Mail-Journal.