Over a decade ago, Brian Booth cast his line into the waters and reeled in a keeper.He was teaching at Parkwood Middle School when he decided to share his love of fishing in a way that would teach students about the sport and help them feel more connected to the school community.Booth created Scholastic Anglers to offer “student-anglers opportunities to learn lifetime skills of commitment, sportsmanship, character development, responsibility, dedication, respect, self-discipline, teamwork and camaraderie through high standards of integrity, fairness and ethical behavior,” according to the mission statement posted at the group’s website, www.scholasticanglers.com.“We probably had 20-25 students ... that first year,” said Booth, who now teaches at Marvin Ridge Middle School.“We turned it into a competition. As we went on throughout the year, we did all of our events at Cane Creek Park. … It would draw attention and people would ask about it, and we started getting a lot of inquiries about it from other schools.“That’s when we started looking into forming a league, so to speak.”The number of students and schools competing in Scholastic Anglers has grown since its start in the 2002-2003 school year. Booth said last year there were 120 students from Union Academy, Central Academy of Technology & Arts, Metrolina Christian Academy, and the combined middle- and high-school clusters of Parkwood, Sun Valley, Weddington and Marvin Ridge.Now the catch phrase for the program is, “Put your school’s pride on the line.”“Any school that wants to participate lets us know, and we tell them what to do,” Booth said. “It can be a public school, private or home-school.”Dr. Mary Ellis, superintendent of Union County Public Schools, said: “It is a good program. Initially the teachers at Parkwood Middle School and I were looking for ways to engage middle schoolers. Engaged students don’t drop out of school, make better grades and have better attendance at school. We had a number of students who were not in any club or had any involvement with school other than attending classes.“Since Parkwood was near to Cane Creek Park, we started the inaugural Fishing Club. ... These young people were engaged, and one of the requirements to stay in the club was to do your absolute best in school. Within two years of beginning the club, our composite test scores topped 90 percent on grade level for the first time in the school’s history … and that’s a big fish.”Students must be in grades six through 12.After a school forms a team, participants earn points a number of ways: attending meetings and workshops, catching fish, completing fishing-related classroom assignments and participating in events.The group holds a monthly workshop at Boater’s Marine in Monroe to cover a range of topics such as knot-tying, lure-making, rigging, casting and boat safety. Programs also include guest speakers, such as members of the fishing team from UNC Charlotte.When Scholastic Anglers catch a fish, “they have to take a photo of it, then release it,” he said. “Then they fill out a form. … Each fish has a specific point value, from freshwater to salt water. Bass is worth more than brim and so forth,” Booth said.The school with the most points from its top 10 participants receives the Scholastic Angler School of the Year Award. The student with the most points receives the Scholastic Angler of the Year Award.Students do not have to pay any fees to participate in Scholastic Anglers, he said, but they are expected to furnish their own equipment and supplies.“If we have a less-fortunate student, then we will get them whatever they need,” he said.Scholastic Anglers fish any number of places around the county, from Cane Creek Park to neighborhood retention ponds.Kannon Baker joined CATA’s Scholastic Angler program two years ago. His grandfather introduced him to the sport, he said, and he enjoys teaching younger and less-experienced anglers how to be more successful.“It’s a well-rounded program for kids to enjoy fishing and gives them something to do during the school year,” he said.The 16-year-old Waxhaw native said his own personal record is a 9-pound, largemouth bass caught at a private pond in Waxhaw
Friday, Aug. 30, 2013
Fishing competition catches on in Union County schools
Jane Duckwall is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jane? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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