NEWPORT BEACH — Students at Newport Elementary watch the waves during recess, the school's blacktop surrounded by sand. Many look forward to the weekend when they can jump into the water.
Now, they don't have to wait.
This year, kids at the Balboa Peninsula campus can enroll in what may be the first elementary school surfing class in the nation. As soon as the last bell rings, kids and after-school instructors walk along the boardwalk to the Newport Pier, where waves roll gently into shore. It's a scene only in Southern California.
"I'm not afraid of anything out in the ocean," Matthew Dehdashtian, 10, said cooly, brushing his sandy blond mop out of his eyes as he readied his wetsuit Wednesday.
The waves were bigger than usual — taller than some of the kids — and the water was brisk. About 20 beginners jumped, yelled and threw sand, some asking, "Can we go yet?" One girl balanced her bright yellow foam board on the stump of a wooden pier piling.