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School District 166 offers "safety and technology" training

The switch to a block schedule at Cook County Middle and High Schools for the 2017-18 school year created opportunities for the development of new classes.  This led to the creation of "Safety and Technology," a semester-long sixth-grade class that incorporates the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s youth curricula for all-terrain vehicle (ATV), snowmobile, and firearm safety.  
Traditionally, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) safety courses have been offered in Cook County through Community Education and taught after school hours.  Looking to increase participation in these courses and the safety of our community as a result, ISD 166 decided to pursue the adaptation of these classes to fit within the school day.  The best outcome of this change is that every sixth-grade student will have the opportunity to take these courses.  
It has taken a collaborative effort to bring this course to the implementation stage.  As only the second school district in Minnesota to begin such a program, the school had to create a new model.  With the support of school administration and the cooperation of local DNR conservation officers and volunteer instructors, the school developed a plan to integrate online and hands-on training into this new sixth-grade course.  
The first field day took place March 8.  Thirty-two sixth graders completed the online snowmobile safety course and then participated in the field testing. 
DNR Conservation Officer Tom Wahlstrom, along with volunteer instructors Kim Linnell, Chuck Silence, and Eric Nelms, set up the practice course on the school soccer field and guided students as they drove around the course practicing hand signals and the correct decision-making skills at various intersections and signs.  Students were enthusiastic and excited to put their hours of computer study to action. 
Science, Health & PE Teacher Emma Spoon said, “We will continue our DNR safety coursework with ATV and firearms safety later this spring and hope to continue and grow this program in the future so that all Cook County youth have the opportunity to earn these important certifications.”
Spoon added, “All Cook County youth are welcome to participate in this program by completing online coursework at home and then attending the DNR-hosted field days.  For information about future field test dates, please contact the DNR.”