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Driving range now a part of local history

February 06, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - As classes dismissed Monday, yellow vehicles paused on Waynesboro Area Senior High School's former driving range.

They were trackhoes instead of the school buses that had lined up on the pavement there for years.

Excavation work at the driving range - named for driver education classes - is the most visible step in the school's $46 million expansion and renovation project. Within two years, a new wing will hold an auditorium and gymnasium, and the building will have a new entrance.

The $52,000 driving range was completed in the early 1970s and funded in part by a federal grant, former driver education teacher Robert Rankin said.

In addition to creating a space for young drivers to learn, the grant was obtained to create a central place where students could get onto their school buses at the end of the day, Rankin said.

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"The students from the middle school would walk down to the driving range, and the high school would go down there," former principal Louis M. Barlup Jr. said.

At times, 30 buses would be lined up in rows, Barlup said. Students learned to identify their buses by numbers and assigned spaces, he said.

"We didn't use it for a parking lot, except for special activities," he said.

Two teenagers would be in each of eight cars at a time on the driving range, Rankin said. He kept in contact with them on a radio.

"We had simulation, also, so these kids had a lot of experience," Rankin said. "By the time we got out on the road, my God, they knew what to do."

Rankin said representatives from other school districts visited Waynesboro to study the program. He estimated that thousands of students operated a car for the first time on the driving range.

Barlup also commented on the oak trees felled by excavation.

"They were planted when the building was built in 1962," he said.

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