Granite Park Middle School is “Diving In to Education” by offering free SCUBA diving certification and gear to the top female and male student each term. The Dive In to Education Program is sponsored by Dive Addicts and South Valley Motorsports. Students are rewarded for their grades, citizenship and achievement of academic goals outlined in their application to this program.

LaJaya Lane and Skyler Malpass (pictured here), the first recipients of the Dive In to Education program award, received their SCUBA training from Granite Park Middle School teacher, Tom Raty. Mr. Raty, who is also a SCUBA Instructor for Dive Addicts, came up with the program as a means to reward the students who work hard academically, despite the adversities that may exist in their lives. Many students at Granite Park Middle School come from low income and poverty stricken homes, many are from single parent homes, and the student population reflects the vast cultural and economic diversity within the community of South Salt Lake City. For these students, the opportunity to earn a SCUBA certification and their mask, snorkel and fins (a $550 value), is an experience that may not be provided otherwise.

With the sponsorship of Dive Addicts and South Valley Motorsports, and the instruction of Tom Raty, LaJaya and Skyler have earned their SCUBA diving certification, own their mask, snorkel and fins, and now share their experiences with their peers who are encouraged to apply for the next term. Michael Davis and Brittney Ray were recently named the winners for the second term and will soon begin their training and receive their gear. Applications will be taken for the third term beginning January 19th. Students who apply must state why they want to win; reasons given include the desire to become a Marine Biologist or to fulfill a dream to experience the underwater realm. Personal goals are agreed upon between the students, their parent(s), teachers, and school advisors. Then progress is reviewed by the entire faculty at the end of each term to decide which female and male student will be awarded this opportunity.

The excitement and support of the faculty at Granite Park Middle School, Dive Addicts and South Valley Motorsports to encourage the students to set goals and work hard despite adversity, is a model for other schools. Mr. Raty’s personal time spent training these students is applauded as he does so free of charge and in hope that other students are motivated by his love for SCUBA and the opportunities available through this experience. As this program’s success is established at Granite Park Middle School, it is a goal of Mr. Raty to promote it in other schools in the area that may not participate in another academic rewards program such as the “Ken Garff Keys to Success” program already established in many high schools.

See more photos of LaJaya and Skyler’s training here.