Lofty goal

By SCOTT KEELER, Times Staff
Published December 15, 2007

Riviera Middle School eighth-graders Laura Johnson, 14, left, Cristian Diviaggio, 13, and Megan Hamilton, 14, all of St. Petersburg, take the "Everest Challenge" Thursday. Instructor Ed Wiencek of St. Petersburg College, right, supervises their climb on the school's 24-foot climbing wall. The exercise put the students' classroom lessons on life challenges - like goal establishment, planning, communication skills and self-confidence - into a fun and physical test. Sixth- , seventh- and eighth-graders have been climbing the wall over a three-week period at the St. Petersburg school. The program which includes an antidrug phase, is a collaboration between local law enforcement agencies, St. Petersburg College and the Florida National Guard. It could be one of the last times for the program at that location because Pinellas School Board members voted 4-3 in October to close Riviera and three other schools as a means of dealing with enrollment declines. A final vote on the school's future is expected soon.