Two Peninsula College courses get spring resets

CDL class expands; student paper returns

PORT ANGELES — Two programs at Peninsula College are getting a reboot for spring quarter that starts April 4.

An expanded commercial driver license (CDL) course and the return of the Buccaneer newspaper will provide more opportunities for those interested in pursuing a truck driving career or contributing to the student-led publication that was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

A grant of $880,000 from the Board for Community and Technical Colleges has enabled the college to expand the number of students from 40 to 130 in its popular CDL program that provides in-class and hands-on instruction in operating Class A vehicles, such as double- and triple-trailer and tankers.

The cost of the program to the college had limited the number of students it could accept, said Camilla Rico, director of community education and campus enterprises. The grant has helped ease that problem by increasing the availability of classes.

“We’ve never been able to offer the course in the summer before, only in the spring and fall,” Rico said. “We have 120 on our waiting list of people who want the CDL training.”

The CDL course is not offered in the winter due to the weather.

Rico said the impetus behind expanding the program came from a combination of student demand and local employers’ need for skilled drivers.

The three sessions of the intensive, four-week course this spring (two in Port Angeles and one in Forks) will prepare students for taking the state Department of Licensing written and CDL road skill tests.

The college does not staff the course or provide the equipment. Instead, it contracts with the Commercial Driver School in Port Orchard to run all aspects of the program, from classroom to hands-on instruction on its vehicles.

As a certificate training program, the CDL course is ineligible for federal financial aid, but the grant will allow the college to provide tuition assistance to students to help pay the course’s $6,995 fee.

Online only

Financial aid is also available to eligible students who work on the Buccaneer, which last appeared in print in fall 2019 and will re-emerge at the end of April as an online-only publication.

The Webster Scholarship for Media Communication and Journalism that is funded through an endowment established by the family that founded the newspaper that became the Peninsula Daily News provides up to $4,500 a year in assistance for journalism students.

“It is one of the most generous scholarships in the Pacific Northwest,” said journalism instructor and Buccaneer advisor Rich Riski.

While some may miss the print version of the Buccaneer, Riski said being reborn online will give students a better chance to learn and experiment with digital media.

“I’m going to try to take advantage of it being online to do more audio and video,” Riski said. “Think of it like Harry Potter’s Daily Prophet [a wizard newspaper with moving images].”

The Buccaneer is taught as part of an introduction to multimedia journalism course during which students learn about writing, editing, photography, videography and audio recording. Even if a student isn’t interested in pursuing a career in journalism, working on the Buccaneer can be a valuable experience, Riski said.

“I tell students the class is your passport to meet people and go behind closed doors,” Riski said. “The skills you learn will help you whatever you decided to do, whether it’s business or engineering or whatever.”

Information about the commercial driver’s licence course can be found at

Information about the Buccaneer can be found at

Information about the Webster Scholarship for Multimedia Communication and Journalism can be found at


Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at

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