Lakeview High students compete in annual regatta

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 29, 2017

 Freshmen Jenna Dell and Bella Day pilot a pirate-themed boat during the races, with the juniors in a St. Patrick’s Day boat following.

Freshmen Jenna Dell and Bella Day pilot a pirate-themed boat during the races, with the juniors in a St. Patrick’s Day boat following.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ST. CLAIR SHORES — In a race pitting upper and lower classmen against each other, it’s often tough for competitors to stay afloat.

Literally.

The fourth annual Boat Regatta at Lakeview High School pitted grade against grade as they raced cardboard boats holding two of their classmates across the pool. 

Jamie Hitt, a special education teacher at Lakeview High School and a student council adviser with physics teacher Stephanie Givinsky, said that the regatta began four years ago as a student council activity, but is open to all students who want to participate.

“They actually take paddles and they paddle across the pool and back,” she said. “It’s funny, it’s fun, it’s entertaining, and obviously it all takes place in the pool and it’s live-streamed to the auditorium, (so that) anyone that can’t fit in (the pool area) goes to the auditorium and they actually see the live event happening.”

Students have eight weeks to build two boats following the theme assigned to their class. This year, the seniors’ theme was “High School Musical,” juniors built boats about St. Patrick’s Day, sophomores’ theme was Titanic, and the freshmen were the pirates.

Each class is given cardboard, water-resistant tape, a toolbox that includes an X-Acto knife, gloves and paintbrushes.

“If they want to get anything else, they can, but there’s also rules of things they can use (and) things they can’t use,” Hitt said. 

All of the building takes place outside of school hours, and Hitt said that it’s a great, engaging activity that is out of the ordinary but gets the students to work together.

The boats all turn out differently, she said. The Titanic-themed boat, she said, looked more like a raft to evoke the end of the James Cameron movie when the characters, Jack and Rose, were holding on to each other.

“They dressed up that way, too,” she said. 

Students said the activity is one of the most fun experiences of the school year. 

“In my opinion, (the Boat Regatta) was the most fun thing we did this year,” said ninth-grader Mary Holton in an email interview. “It was really fun building the boat and seeing other classes’ ideas and designs. The most fun part was the day of the race, because you got to see all your hard work pay off and be competitive against other grades.”

Senior Katie Couture agreed.

“Seeing how excited our classmates were about the Boat Regatta really made all the stress of building the boat worthwhile,” she said in an email.

Lakeview High School Principal Brent Case said the Boat Regatta is just as much fun as float building in the fall, but with more curricular applications like math, engineering, science and art. 

“Being in the pool is just an absolute riot for me,” he said.

And he’s proud that the students are improving their construction skills. He teased this year’s seniors last year because they had never, in three years, had a boat that made it all the way to the opposite pool deck and back without sinking. This year, the seniors won the race portion of the competition, although judges score on other criteria, so this year’s freshman class actually won the overall competition.

“They’ve (the seniors) been really wanting to show me that they could do it, and they did. They did a magnificent job,” Case said. “We had pretty good success this year — five out of eight made it without sinking, and that’s actually a pretty good number. The first year, we only had two or three.”

The races will be uploaded to the Lakeview HBN (Husky Broadcasting Network) channel on YouTube soon, he said.

Winning the Boat Regatta earns the class spirit points. The class with the most spirit points at the end of the year — earned during Spirit Week, for homecoming floats, for silver and blue days, and other activities — gets a day off of school and a trip to Lake St. Clair Metropark. 

Hitt said that while the building of the boats can actually be stressful, students always seem to have a good time during the race, held this year March 17.

“Despite what challenges or obstacles they might have had leading up to that day, it’s fun and exciting,” she said.