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Using the Pool Throughout the School Day @ SHS & STEM Academy

by Wendy Pierce, Aquatics Director

With the completion of the renovation and improvements to our beautiful aquatic facility, it’s finally time to talk about how we are using this amazing resource for the students of Sandwich. Getting the pool physically ready for students was just the beginning. Days of construction and deep cleaning and  have been replaced with staff training, safety planning, curriculum development and the scheduling challenges of getting all 1300 grade 7-12 students into the pool. 

We are so fortunate to have a pool within Sandwich High School/STEM Academy. Having the facility available to all our students in grades 7-12 is fairly unique to our area. (The only other local school with a pool is Nantucket High School.) There are many opportunities for our students that have been created, with additional benefits to students to come!

  • Every student in general physical education classes will participate in an aquatics unit as part of their physical education class.
  • Fitness for Life classes are utilizing the pool as a fitness option in that curriculum.
  • An American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification course is available to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
  • The athletic department is using the pool as a cross-training tool as well as a rehabilitation option for injured athletes.
  • The swim team will have a home pool for practice and for meets. Imagine the excitement when swim season begins!

The pool is definitely a busy place this year!

Students were introduced to the pool during the first week of school. Their excitement and enthusiasm  was infectious. They were shown the pool and given information about how the swim time would work. Each group will have approximately two weeks of aquatics (five class days) and will be given lots of notice before their pool time starts. Classes will be split so that males and females will use the pool at separate times. Students will have ample time to shower and dress after swimming.

All pool classes will include some manner of water safety topics including  general and personal water safety,  sun safety, rip currents, and boating safety. Those students needing or wanting swimming and/or diving instruction will have an opportunity to work with an instructor to improve their skills. Water basketball, volleyball, water polo and relay games are just a few of the recreational and fitness options available to students.

The Lifeguard Class provides students with the opportunity to receive physical education credit while completing the requirements for the lifeguard certification. Students will master the skills for lifeguarding, CPR/AED for lifeguards and first aid. One of the lifeguard students noted how “cool” it was that they were having class in the pool as part of their day.

Water Safety

The safety of all students is a top priority. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Commissioner of Education have issued a set of guidelines for schools with pools. These guidelines align with the various state laws and health department codes that govern swimming pools. These rules encompass staff certifications and supervision requirements, water quality, emergency planning, curriculum topics, and operational guidelines. The Physical Education staff has undergone safety training and lifeguard certification to ensure the safety of all our students.

The safety of all students is a top priority. DESE mandates that every student be swim tested annually to classify each child’s swimming ability. This test focuses on water safety and basic skills rather than swimming stroke proficiency. Knowing each child’s comfort level will help us better supervise and plan our instructional time. This also gives us a starting point with which to measure student progress and improvement.


This is just the beginning….

Hopefully lots of students will feel that the pool is the place to be this year! As the program settles in, use by other curriculum areas such as engineering and after school athletics offerings are planned. The possibilities are boundless!