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In the News

Shorewood High School Class Adds Surfing to Curriculum
Posted 05/18/2017 12:43PM

Shorewood High School has partnered with Lake Effect Surf Shop to introduce Shorewood students to the sport of surfing. The curricular addition is a new unit offered through Watershed Wisdom, an interdisciplinary, experiential course that teaches students about their local watershed. The class, now in its 19th year, has always required students to experience outdoor adventure, but surfing is a new twist.

Watershed Wisdom is team-taught by three Shorewood High School teachers: Eric Gietzen, Mike Gregornik, and Eric Mathews. "We wanted to add a local, freshwater-based adventure and I thought surfing would be a good fit," says Gietzen, who is also chairman of Surfrider Foundation – Milwaukee. Gietzen has been surfing in Lake Michigan since 1986, but lately has noticed an uptick in his students' interest in surfing. "Surfing in the Great Lakes is nothing new, but a lot of local people are beginning to look to the lake for a unique experience, an adventure, and the camaraderie one finds ," Gietzen says.

Providing students with a unique outdoor experience is not the only benefit to this new unit. "When we look at the potential for learning outcomes, the surfing experience has great potential," Gietzen says. "We want students to understand the profound value of Lake Michigan, not only as a place for adventure, but also as a resource and ecosystem their generation will have to protect. For some of these students, this experience will crystalize their understanding of what it means to love a place so much you want to protect it. For others, it will be an adventure they can write about, blog about, or talk about on a podcast. Now more than ever, our students need authentic experiences in the world that will inspire them to make it a better place. That quest can begin right here, at Atwater Beach, on a surfboard."

An additional opportunity that the students have through Watershed Wisdom is the chance to participate in an 11-day camping expedition in June. As a part of the expedition, students will bike over 100 miles to the headwaters of the Milwaukee River, learn canoe rescue skills at Mauthe Lake, and then paddle downstream to the harbor. Students will also have to create and prepare their own meals. Along the way, students will conduct labs in environmental science, compose narratives and poems about their experience, and engage in academic and philosophical discussions around the campfire.

"We are lucky to learn and teach in Shorewood," Gietzen says. "Our community understands the value of authentic learning, the power of a watershed education, and the unique educational opportunities provided by our proximity to the world's greatest source of surface freshwater. Surfing, like so many other things we teach, is simply an extension of these values."

For more information, please contact Watershed Wisdom teacher Eric Gietzen at 414.828.1559 or via email at

SHS Calendar

    • TueFeb27 School Board Meeting 7:00 PM
    • TueMar13 School Board Meeting 7:00 PM
    • MonMar19 Advanced Learning Information Session 6:00 PMSHS Library
    • TueApr03 2018 Spring Election
    • TueApr10 School Board Meeting 7:00 PM
    • ThuApr12 Special Education Info Session 6:00 PMSHS Library
    • TueApr24 School Board Meeting 7:00 PM
    • TueMay08 School Board Meeting 7:00 PM
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