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Taking the plunge to success

Taking the plunge to success
Taking the plunge to success
Third graders from Morgan Elementary School wait their turn to swim across the deep end of the pool Friday morning at the YMCA of Harrison County in Corydon. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

Before last week, Fernando Ruiz didn’t know how to swim. The Morgan Elementary School third grader had never been in a pool until last week.
But after taking the five free swim lessons the YMCA of Harrison County offers to every third grader in the county, Ruiz was doing basic swim strokes and floating on his back.
Ruiz, who moved into the North Harrison Community School Corp. district this school year, said learning to do the back stroke was the hardest for him to learn during the sessions that began Monday, April 4, and ended Friday. But he credited the YMCA’s ‘helpful instructors’ with his success.
Kerry Hawhee, the aquatics director at the Y, told the 85 students Friday that it was ‘an exciting day,’ because they were going to take their swimming tests, but it was also a ‘sad day,’ because it was their last class.
‘I’m really excited about how much you’ve learned,’ he told them.
Before getting in the pool, Hawhee talked briefly with the children about waterpark safety. He quizzed them on items they should and shouldn’t take with them, and he emphasized the importance of using the ‘buddy system’ and designating a meeting place.
‘Obey the rules, especially for the water slides,’ Hawhee said. ‘Obey the lifeguards.’
Besides daily instruction, students also got tips on other water-related activities, such as canoe safety.
The first day of class, the students were divided into groups based on swimming ability.
‘We felt this was such a worthwhile activity,’ said Morgan Principal Lance Richards. ‘We couldn’t pass it up.’
Third graders at Lanesville Elementary School took advantage of the YMCA’s offer the week of March 14 through 18. Principal Marsha Himmelhaver said about 12 students participated.
‘It was wonderful,’ Himmelhaver said. ‘It worked great for our balanced calendar.’
Richards said besides learning how to swim, the kids will probably remember the swim lesson sessions for a long time. ‘A big part of school is building memories,’ he said.
Parents had the opportunity to request their students not participate, but Richards said none did.
Third graders at North Harrison Elementary took their week-long lessons in March. About 85 participated (just a couple of students opted out).
‘Kerry does a tremendous job’ with the students, said Monty Schneider, superintendent at North Harrison.
Richards said Hawhee was also ‘great to work with’ when it came to scheduling the students.
Did they miss valuable instructional classroom time? Richards said Morgan’s lessons were scheduled to coincidence with recess, plus there are 175 other days in the school year to work on studies.
It was apparent that memories were being made, as evidenced by the smiles on the students’ faces as they accomplished a task they couldn’t do earlier in the week, often as their classmates cheered.