by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 19/97) - Students at Sir John Franklin high school are taking the classroom under water.

The school's scuba club is heading to Fiji for a trip they've been preparing for since September by fund-raising, studying marine biology, first aid, and scuba diving.

"We're really excited about going and we're going to learn a lot," said Grade 11 student Lesley Cole.

The 20-member club will visit Viti Levu, Fiji's largest island from April 15-25. While there club members will become certified open-water divers.

They've already spent several months training in Yellowknife. Their diving instructor, Colin Baile is accompanying them on the trip.

John Steward, a former teacher who helped get the project off the ground in September, said the students are in for a educational trip of a lifetime.

"They're going to be a tourist, but not just a tourist, he said. "The hope is that the students will have a sense of the culture."

Students are also responsible for the completion of a marine biology project. Some of the students are looking at the behaviour of fish or other underwater creatures.

Stewart said the diving experience can open many doors for students who may want to get involved in diving.

"Once they have their certificate, they can dive anywhere in the world," he said. "Or they may even think about diving as a career."

As an educator, Steward believes that the experience will give the students a new appreciation for the environment.

"If they think twice before they throw a coke can over the edge of a boat -- as teachers, that's our goal," he said.