For the third year, first- through sixth-grade students at St. James-Santee Elementary School received certificates for participating in the Weaving Aquatic Training With Education and Recreation from the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department.

In the innovative WATER program created by the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department and the school, the students have the opportunity to learn water safety and beginning swimming skills during the school day.

The program was initiated after the drowning death of former local student Jaq’Coy Garrett in May 2010.

“His tragic death brought attention to the fact that many of our students do not know how to swim despite living near the water. This was a danger we could not ignore,” former Principal Chris Swetckie said.

Pat Simmons, parent of a second-grader, said, “It is a good idea, and we’re glad the kids are learning proper swimming techniques. With my daughter learning, I feel like I should also learn how to swim.”

Principal Joe Sampson summed up his goals for the program: “Students are building confidence in themselves while establishing a respect for the water around them.”

During this school year, more than 170 students will take the WATER class.