Students help clean up, learn to canoe

Canon-McMillan students help clean up, learn to canoe

  • By Deana Carpenter
    Staff writer May 29, 2014
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Deana Carpenter / For the Almanac
Michael Sil and Izzy Chopra of Peters Township High School canoe on Canonsburg Lake after getting pointers from state Fish and Boat Commission representatives.
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Deana Carpenter / For the Almanac
Kristi Niekamp of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission teaches students Emma Held, Leah Sil, Izzy Chopra and Michael Sil (back), all of Peters Township High School, how to use paddles before they start canoeing.

McMURRAY – Nearly 25 students from the environmental clubs at Peters Township and Canon-McMillan High School spent a sunny mid-May afternoon at Canonsburg Lake learning how to safely canoe. Along with the safety lessons and canoe rides, the students also picked up bags of trash along the lake’s shoreline.

The event was sponsored by the Canonsburg Lake Restoration and Improvement Committee. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission provided canoes, paddles, life jackets, gloves, garbage bags and instruction to the students.

“We want some of the younger generation not to miss out on any of the great activities here,” said Carole Milas of the Canonsburg Lake Restoration and Improvement Committee.

“It’s so peaceful here and we are helping the environment,” said Natalie Britvich, a student at Canon-McMillan High School. She added she likes the water and it was an opportunity to do something good for the community.

“It just seemed fun to do and to also clean up the lake,” said Becca Ralston, a student at Peters Township High School.

Jim Delesandro, of the state Fish and Boat Commission, said the main reason for the May 14 event was for the students to learn about safety on the water. He added it also gives them an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

He and Kristi Niekamp, also of the Fish and Boat Commission, talked to the students about the proper way to paddle a canoe, the equipment needed, and how to properly fit a personal flotation device.

“We’re having a controlled paddle within boundaries,” said Delesandro. They also showed the students the different parts of a canoe and how to board one correctly in the water.

“The better your center of gravity is, the better chance you’ll stay afloat,” Delesandro said.

Another aspect of safety, Dalesandro said, is to communicate with one’s partner in the canoe.

“Canoeing is a communication sport,” he said. “You need to communicate with the person in front of you or in back of you in the canoe.”

Canonsburg Lake Restoration and Improvement Committee will host a community Paddle PA event at 5 p.m. June 18. The free event will offer families the chance to learn about life jackets and safe paddling skills. Those attending will also be able to paddle along the lake. Registration is required by Friday. To register, call Carole Milas at 724-413-6300. For details, visit


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