8th-Graders Take a Dive

Article excerpt

Some eighth-graders at Belle Valley South School in Belleville are immersing themselves in their studies.

And they're getting soaking wet.

The students are in Leo Obernuefemann's scuba diving class. Two days a week during their lunch period, the students meet with Obernuefemann and study scuba diving in depth. Then on Friday nights, they don masks and breathing gear and jump in the swimming pool at the Executive Inn in Belleville under the guidance of instructors from Mid America Scuba II.

"They love it," Obernuefemann said. "I love to watch them when they go under water for the first time and they find out they can breathe. They come up, and they're smiling from ear to ear. That's when they become hooked."

Twenty-one students are taking the class in two sessions. In the spring both groups will dive in a lake in Pinckneyville, Ill.

"I have them take Cheerios with them in a bag. The fish are so tame, they eat from your hand," Obernuefemann said.

At the end of the training, if the students master the skills, they'll get a "C card." This means "they'll be certified for the rest of their lives," Obernuefemann said. …