Originally published May 9, 2019 in The Intelligencer.
By Chris English
More than 240 eighth-graders from the district’s three middle schools paddled around in canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on the lake at Core Creek Park in Middletown.
It was overcast, windy and not exactly toasty warm, but that didn’t stop 242 Neshaminy School District eighth-graders from taking to Lake Luxembourg in Middletown on Thursday.
Under the guidance of their health and physical education teachers and some Neshaminy High School students, the eighth-graders from the district’s three middle schools navigated around the Core Creek Park lake in canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. The annual boatfest is the culmination of the Pennsylvania boating safety course required of all eighth-graders every year as part of their physical education classes.
The less than ideal weather didn’t seem to chill anyone’s enjoyment as the students from Maple Point and Carl Sandburg middle schools in Middletown and Poquessing in Lower Southampton all took their turns paddling around on the various watercraft.
“It’s so peaceful out there and calming, satisfying and nice,” Sandburg eighth-grader Mackenzie Straight said after taking a canoe ride with her friend and classmate Dana Rosselli.
“I love boating,” Mackenzie continued. “Kayaking is my favorite. It’s great exercise, but that’s for one person and I also wanted to do things with Dana today.”
The kayak was also the favorite watercraft of another Sandburg student, A.J. Neiman.
“I love just being out there on my own, paddling away,” he said. “But the whole thing is fun. It’s also nice being with everyone, and hanging out with your friends.”
In addition to boating, the students also enjoyed volleyball and other activities.
“We get to do a lot of different things,” said Maple Point eighth-grader Lindsey Gorka after taking a spin on a stand-up paddleboard alongside her friend Isabella Lackey.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to get out on a lake like this and a fun way to end the course they worked on for many months,” Sandburg health and physical education teacher Terry Martian said.
Kathleen Kenney, the health and physical education department chair at Maple Point, said the boating course includes classroom instruction, videos and practice in the pools at Sandburg and Poquessing. Since Maple Point doesn’t have a pool, students and teachers there do their best to simulate being on the water by various means, Kenney said.
The course also requires passing a written test, she added. At the end, students can apply for a state boating license if they wish.
“We try to teach and promote lifetime physical activities, and boating is definitely one of them,” Kenney said. “It’s good physical activity and exercise and something they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.
“And this day we do every year on the lake is also a chance for the eighth-graders from all our middle schools to come together, socialize and get to know each other better. They will all be together at the high school next year.”