Elk Rapids 8th Graders Prepare To Paddle Across Straits To Bring Awareness

Two eighth grade boys are inspired to paddle board across the Straits of Mackinac for a community project Saturday.

The students attend Cherryland Middle School in Elk Rapids, an International Baccalaureate School which means all eighth graders are required to do a community project, but these guys were able to raise thousands of dollars and do what seemed unthinkable.

9&10’s Megan Woods has their story.

“It’s time to start to stand up and protect the lakes.”

The 8th grade community project ideas are endless, but for Kadin Peterson and Gordie Lafontaine it was all about the Great Lakes.

Their original plan was to do a beach cleanup.

Kadin Peterson says, “Gordie and I all along wanted to do something to help the environment and we knew that Mr. Morris had a non-profit organization, Stand Up For Great Lakes, that was already committed to doing that.”

A science teacher at the school and one of the founders of Stand Up For Great Lakes, Kwin Morris says, “We were just watching a Line 5 documentary and one day I was just like ‘We should paddle across the Straits of Mackinac’ and they’re like ‘Is that possible?’”

After months of training the three made it possible. Working on and off the water.

Peterson says, “We started e-mailing different businesses. Our goal was originally $1,000 and we knew at the start we could either do way more than that or maybe way less than that we just had to be ready for whatever is going to happen.”

“And to see it go from an idea and all the support, the community, all these people that we don’t even know donating to us has been so rewarding for me to see these kids grow.”

Now they’ve raised almost $3,000 but say the most rewarding part is the difference they’re making.

Gordie Lafontaine says, “We did a presentation earlier in the year for an assembly and you can just see the younger kids, 6th and 7th graders, talking about it and about how much it’s changing what they’ll do for the community project, they just won’t do something average they’ll try to find something big to do and help out.”

The money goes to Stand Up for Great Lakes where they’ll use the money for local beach cleanups, water safety classes for kids, and for their annual paddle crossings for charities or causes. This year the money will go to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

The boys hit the water to cross the straits Saturday morning.

9&10 News will be there to give you a look at their journey. 

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