Local & Regional
SILETZ, Ore. – On a typical Saturday, when most high school students are relaxing and spending time with their families, one group of students at Newport High School are shooting rifles for academic credit.
“It’s fun to be able to come out here and shoot a rifle,” said Trebor Michels, a senior at Newport High School. “I haven’t shot a rifle for a while, and it’s nice to be able to spend so much time with my friends.”
The class is known as the “Oregon Outdoors”, and was started by three teachers at Newport High School - Ollie Richardson, Adam Scarberry and Davis Campbell - in an effort to provide students a chance to explore the vast amounts of wilderness that surround Newport.
This phase of “Oregon Outdoors” consists of a trip to the Big Timber Rifle and Pistol Club, located about half a mile north of Siletz. Scarberry takes the students out after they’ve completed the written portion of their hunter’s safety certifications.
“I think that to learn something, you have to see it,” Scarberry said. “It’s a great way to get the kids out here and see what the Oregon wilderness has to offer.
Scarberry teaches social sciences at Newport High School, but has a strong interest in the outdoors because he grew up in Florence and spent a lot of time outside during his youth. Scarberry has fused his passion of hunting, with his fervor for teaching.
During the class portion off the class, Scarberry brings in guests to present about the topics the students are studying. This time, he brought in Kay Wyatt, a Depoe Bay resident who has degrees in electrical engineering and geology. She taught the students about seismic factors involved with earthquakes and tsunamis.
A day on the range for the students consist of a meeting in the lodge, where students receive safety instruction from Scarberry, and the two range masters, who instruct the students on the proper safety required to shoot at a gun range.
The students then have the opportunity to test out both a 20-gauge and a 12-gauge shotgun. During this process, they take turns firing three shots at targets placed down range. During this time, Scarberry provides individual attention to the students to make sure they all understand the basic principles of shooting a shotgun.
“Toward the beginning, we let them cock the gun, learn how to load and unload the rifle and teach them the basic principles of hunter’s safety,” Scarberry said.
After the students have all received instruction from Scarberry, the range master opens up the range to center fire, meaning students have the option of shooting the shotgun, .22 caliber rifle, or their own if they brought it with them.
Bill Weinheim, an employee with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, volunteers his time to teach students about rifles because he feels there are two many mistakes that occur with firearms.
“What’s the difference between a pencil and a rifle?” Weinheim said. “You can’t erase a rifle’s mistake.”
The program is represented by primarily upperclassmen, and Scarberry says there’s an eclectic mix of students in the class.
“It’s great because both males and females are represented,” Scarberry said. “We even have two foreign exchange students. One is from Italy and the other is from Germany.”
This portion of the “Oregon Outdoor” program comes after the students have already spent nine weeks learning how to shred the waves with Richardson, who also teaches surfing lessons at Ossie’s Surf Shop. He teaches them the fundamentals of water safety before turning the class over to Scarberry in the winter.
During the spring, the students have the opportunity to earn their open water scuba certification under the supervision of Campbell, who teaches physical education at the high school.
Scarberry says it’s important for kids to have an opportunity to experience the outdoors near Newport because their high school is positioned in the heart of endless opportunities for students to explore what this area has to offer.
“It’s important to get the kids out here to learn about what the world has to offer,” Scarberry said. “It only takes one mistake with a rifle to change someone’s life forever.”