PHS students coach for new third-grade swim unit.
Senior Aubree Fisher works with her group.
Senior Aubree Fisher works with her group.
Luke Robertson

Many of us remember going swimming as the most rewarding and anticipated field trip of the year. This year, Westside Elementary School students took multiple trips to the pool to be taught and coached by Powell High School students.

Swimming is an important life skill, and while programs like USA Swimming and lessons through the Powell Aquatic Center help teach some kids, many kids never get the chance to learn.  

Westside Elementary P.E. teacher Mr. Luke Robertson wanted to get kids in the water in a way that would be fun, but also instructive. This program also allowed high school students to volunteer and get involved. 

“…One of the major barriers was figuring out a way to have enough instructors to work with students in small groups at their skill level,” Mr. Robertson said. “I started talking to Mrs. Fluty over a year ago about the possibility of partnering with high school students, and she was on board immediately.”

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The unit required extensive planning, including choosing coaches, creating lesson plans, and scheduling. Teaching lessons would require high school students to be absent for three to four periods to have sufficient time to commute, set up equipment, teach, and return to school. This was initially a concern, as there would be up to six sessions that students could be absent for. 

“I was a little nervous to ask for time away from school because teachers don’t love it when kids miss class,” P.E. teacher Mrs. Charli Fluty said. “But Mr. Wormald was supportive from the start. He loved the idea of collaboration and doing this for the kids.”

While the rest of the staff was also supportive, students still had to stay organized and on top of any assignments or makeup work. 

“It was a little bit difficult, especially in my science class because that’s the class that was during lessons,” freshman Garrett Lennon said. “I had quite a bit to make up in that class every week, but other than that it was pretty easy if I worked hard.”

During lessons, each student was assigned a small group of third graders and given a set of skills to teach them. With three different skill levels, strong swimmers had the chance to improve and kids with little experience were able to work on getting comfortable in the water.

“I was on the PHS Girls Swim Team, so I really advocate for more swimmers,” senior Aubree Fisher said. “To be able to teach future swimmers is very important to me.”

I was on the PHS Girls Swim Team, so I really advocate for more swimmers.To be able to teach future swimmers is very important to me.”

— senior Aubree Fisher

These lessons were a great opportunity for PHS students and elementary students. Mr. Robertson hopes to continue the program next year and keep working with high school students.

“Everything I saw and all reports I heard back was that the 3rd graders really enjoyed swimming,” Mr. Robertson said. “I also hope that we were able to increase interest in swimming and that some of the 3rd graders will continue with lessons outside of school because of what they learned and enjoyed in class.”

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