Licking County News

Watkins to offer sports officiating class

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Watkins Memorial High School will offer an elective class on basketball and football officiating during the 2013-14 school year.

The Southwest Licking school board on March 7 voted 4-0, with Vice President Cindy Zaino absent, to approve the high school's new course description guide.

Students in the officiating course will graduate as certified officials in exchange for officiating at four Biddy League games.

"This will be the first of its kind in the state of Ohio," Watkins Principal Benjamin Richards said. "Our students will walk away as certified officials."

Richards said the Biddy League currently lacks officials and is willing to pay students' fees for the officiating tests.

He said the league earns that fee back in three games, but he will require the students to officiate four in exchange for the fee so the league comes out ahead, as well.

"It's a bargain for the Biddy League," Richards said.

He said a Licking County benefactor is willing to pay for the uniforms for football officials.

"I'm excited to see how it'll turn out," Richards said. "I'm really looking forward to it; it's out of the box."

Richards said once the certified students meet their four-game obligation, they can begin to officiate Biddy League games for a fee.

"We are providing students the ability to generate income," he said.

Among other course changes, Richards said, Biology II would be eliminated "with a heavy heart," but an applied science course would be offered.

"This is a course where students identify and solve a problem," he said. "Think of it like a science fair."

Photography will become digital photography.

"This is the first year without a darkroom," Richards said. "We're doing it all on computers because that's really where photography is going."

Richards said the high school is doing away with a parenting and child-development course.

"It will be a component of the life-skills class," he said.

The life-skills class also covers balancing a checkbook, applying for work and other skills. Richards said it seemed an entire semester of parenting and child development was "a little too intense," and other life skills are important to learn.

The high school also eliminated industrial technology instruction because of budget cuts.

"We hope to bring it back at some point," he said.

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