Granville Rec District offers school driving training for GHS students

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The students of the Lycée de Granville will soon be able to take driving lessons during the school day.

The Granville Recreation District recently developed a Drive Academy for school district members ages 15 and five months and older.

With Licking Valley Driving School in Newark as one of the only driving schools in the county, and with limited availability for driving schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GRD’s Drive Academy offers a local option for families .

“We wanted to fill a need in the community that wasn’t currently there,” said Lara Benschoter, director of the academy. “We know Granville students are very busy multi-tasking, so we want to provide that convenience for them.”

The school held its first class in February and has since held five standard classroom sessions, consisting of six four-hour classes, meeting state requirements.

Ohio stipulates that eligible teens must complete 24 hours of classroom training as well as eight hours of in-car training before taking their driving test.

To work with difficult schedules, the academy has partnered with GHS to provide classroom training during sixth, seventh and eighth period study hall this fall. Students who have this classroom study time and are 15 years and five months old are eligible for the classroom training option.

“It’s definitely convenient because it’s hard to manage their schedules if they’re into sports, theater, music,” Benschoter said.

The in-school session will run three days a week to meet the 24-hour requirement. Students will have 33 days of in-class instruction, with the first class taking place on September 7. Once students complete their in-class training, they can schedule in-car training to take place outside of class hours.

“The partnership between the recreation district and the school district has always been about sharing facilities. We’re sort of their programming arm, by creation,” said Andy Wildman, executive director of GRD.

Benschoter said she will offer four to six makeup classes at the end of the fall term for students who missed a class. She plans to record lessons, so any student who missed can watch a specific lesson during catch-up time.

Wildman said he was initially interested in developing Drive Academy after two of his friends mentioned they were going to start their own driving school, which they later decided not to pursue.

Wildman said those people face hurdles related to state requirements for licensing a driving school, including office space to hold lessons, store records and insurance information. .

“All of those things are already in place with the rec because that’s what we do. We run community programs,” Wildman said. “My friends had done some of the groundwork to figure out where to start and what kind of stuff we needed to start going through and where to look.”

Wildman asked Benschoter, who handles recreational district marketing, to be the academy manager shortly thereafter. The two then worked to complete the requirements to receive a license for the academy, which was completed in January.

Jen Kurek, a Granville resident whose son completed driving training at Drive Academy, said it was a great option compared to other schools in the area.

“When I was growing up, I did it in school too. It relieves parents of the burden of finding different places for them,” Kurek said. “I think it will only benefit students to do it quickly and efficiently during school.”

Five fully certified instructors work for the academy and three are currently in training, said Kristi Woolard, the academy’s training manager. These instructors include retired police officers, a bus driver and a tractor-trailer driver, among others.

Students who have completed their driver training online or at another school can register for in-car sessions only, which cost $475.

The academy is sponsored by Coughlin, and the dealer offers a coupon to all students who participate in the program. Coupon is for a free oil change and tire rotation plus $500 off a new or used vehicle based on online price.

For information on enrolling in Drive Academy, call 740-587-1976.

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