Granville Rec District to offer in-school drivers training to high school students

·4 min read

Granville High School students will soon be able to complete drivers training courses during the school day.

The Granville Recreation District recently developed a Drive Academy for members of the school district who are at least 15 years and five months old.

With Licking Valley Driving School in Newark as one of the only driving schools in the county, and with limited availability for driving schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GRD’s Drive Academy provides a local option to families.

"We wanted to fill a need in the community that wasn't here currently," said Lara Benschoter, director of the academy. "We know that the students in Granville are very busy doing multiple things, so we want to provide that convenience."

Chloe Thatcher, who previously participated in the Granville Rec District's Drive Academy, sits in the program's vehicle. The academy is now offering in-school drivers education to Granville High School students.
Chloe Thatcher, who previously participated in the Granville Rec District's Drive Academy, sits in the program's vehicle. The academy is now offering in-school drivers education to Granville High School students.

The school held its first class in February and has since hosted five standard-classroom sessions, which are composed of six, four-hour classes, meeting state requirements.

Ohio stipulates that eligible teens must complete 24 hours of classroom training alongside eight hours of in-car training prior to taking their driving test.

To work with difficult schedules, the academy has partnered with GHS to provide classroom training during sixth, seventh and eighth period study hall this fall. Students with that study hall time and who are 15 years and five months old are eligible for the in-school training option.

"It definitely is convenient because it is hard to manage their schedules if they're into sports, drama, music," Benschoter said.

The at-school session will run three-days a week to meet the 24 hour requirement. Students will have 33 days of classroom instruction, with the first class taking place on Sept. 7. Once students complete their classroom training, they can schedule in-car training that will take place outside of school hours.

"The partnership between the rec district and the school district has always been that we share facilities. We're kind of their, by creation, programming arm," Andy Wildman, executive director of GRD, said.

Benschoter said she will offer four to six makeup classes at the end of the fall term for students who missed a class. She is looking into recording the classes, so any student who missed can watch a specific class during the make-up time.

Wildman said he was initially interested in developing the Drive Academy after two of his friends mentioned they were going to start their own driving school, which they later decided to not follow through with.

Wildman said those individuals were facing barriers related to the state requirements for licensing a driving school, including an office space to hold classes, store records and insurance information.

"All of those things are already in place with the rec because this is what we do. We run community programming," Wildman said. "My friends had done some of the legwork in terms of knowing where to start and what type of things we needed to start going through and where to look."

Wildman asked Benschoter, who handles the rec district’s marketing, to be the director of the academy shortly after. The two then worked to fulfill the necessary requirements to receive licensing for the academy, which was completed in January.

Jen Kurek, a Granville resident whose son completed his in-car training at the Drive Academy, said it was a great option compared to other schools in the area.

"When I grew up, I did it in school as well. It takes that burden off the parents of getting them different places," Kurek said. "I think it's only going to benefit the students to get it done quickly and efficiently during school."

Five fully-certified instructors work for the academy and three are currently in training, Kristi Woolard, the academy’s training manager, said. Those instructors include retired police officers, a bus driver and a semi truck driver among other individuals.

Students who completed their driving training online or at another school are able to sign up for in-car sessions only, which cost $475.

The academy is sponsored by Coughlin and the dealership provides a coupon to all students who participate in the program. The coupon is for a complimentary oil change and tire rotation as well as $500 off a new or used vehicle based on the online price.

For more information about registering for the Drive Academy, call 740-587-1976.

This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Granville Rec District offers in-school drivers training to GHS students