Weyauwega-Fremont class includes live fire training
By Angie Landsverk
This year’s Weyauwega-Fremont summer school offerings included a hunter safety class.
Students signed up for the class during the school district’s summer school registration period.
Volunteer instructors taught it over the course of a week in July.
It was Elementary Principal Doug Nowak who asked Paul Piencikowski if he was interested in teaching the class as part of summer school.
Nowak is the district’s summer school principal and knew Piencikowski teaches hunter safety in the Waupaca area.
“He asked if I could make it happen in an effective way,” Piencikowski said.
With assistance from four other volunteer instructors, Piencikowski did.
Jim Peglow and Tom Mitchell, Sr. were among those who helped teach the class.
Midway through the course, they talked to the students about such topics as ethics, safe zones of fire, hunting with dogs and how far different types of shots spread after being fired.
Sixteen students took the class, and Nowak said the parents of three of the children were also interested in taking the class.
“The class mirrors the Wisconsin DNR Hunter Safety curriculum. Summer attendance is not required. However, if the students maintain attendance, meet the criteria of the course and pass the required assessments, they become eligible to receive a Wisconsin DNR Hunter Safety certificate if they correctly follow the application process,” Nowak said.
For 3 1/2 hours each of the five days, the students rotated from a Weyauwega Elementary classroom to the school’s gym and its backyard.
The course included live fire training at the Waupaca Conservation Club later in the week before the students completed the class by taking its final exam.
Nowak explained how the class ended up being part of the summer school offerings.
“Every year, when summer school is completed, an annual review of our offerings is conducted to assess how well we are meeting the needs of our stakeholders,” he said. “Staff are surveyed the following January to gather interesting ideas for additional programming.”
Nowak said staff members have diverse interests and hobbies which they are often willing to develop into summer curriculum to teach, or to coach other staff members to instruct.
“Staff subsequently provide valuable learning opportunities while making connections with students via common interests, without the pressures of high stakes assessments,” he said. “Summer school is a wonderful time for a child to be mentored by a qualified teacher and have the ability to explore new interests.”
Peglow described the W-F School District as a progressive one.
“It sees the need for gun safety,” he said.
Both he and Piencikowski became hunter safety instructors about five years ago.
Piencikowski decided to do so after his oldest daughter wanted to go hunting with him.
When she took the hunter safety class, he found the class to be the same as when he took it in 1984.
As a result, Piencikowski asked the DNR what it would take to start a new group of instructors who would teach the class in a more hands-on way.
Twenty-four people from throughout the state, including seven from Waupaca, signed on to become instructors and went through the necessary training.
“We have as many as seven classes per year. Last year, we had just under 600 students. We have had them come to the Waupaca area from throughout the state, Illinois and Minnesota,” Piencikowski said.
Their students have ranged in age from 8 to 72.
With the material geared toward the sixth-grade level and the field portion of the test being hands on, he encourages parents to wait until their children are around 12 years old before signing them up for the class.