To fulfill its educational mission that includes a commitment to Aquidneck Island students, the non-profit organization Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI) is hosting 21 students from Rogers High School, Portsmouth High School and the MET School on a nine-day voyage aboard Rhode Island’s Official Sailing Education Vessel SSV Oliver Hazard Perry. The student trainees, a mix of 9th through 11th graders between the ages of 14 and 17, are accompanied by two teacher chaperones. They boarded the 200 foot three-masted Class A Tall Ship in Philadelphia on June 2, at the conclusion of the vessel’s participation in the Sail Philadelphia Tall Ships Festival.

Perry, which has a professional crew of 19, currently is sailing from Philadelphia to Newport, where it has a permanent berth at Fort Adams State Park. The students are scheduled to disembark on Monday, June 11. The voyage is funded by the Hamilton Family Foundation, Newport Fed Charitable Foundation, and BankNewport.

“Our highest local priority is formalizing the annual Aquidneck Island High Schools Partnership we piloted in 2017,” said OHPRI Executive Director Jess Wurzbacher. “This annual program benefits local students as one of the original goals in building the ship and provides access to an experiential-based curriculum and sail training program, with a literacy and science academic component.”

Wurzbacher added that the program also serves as a model for other Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut public schools to ensure that students from diverse socio-economic communities have access to unique, high quality experiential education opportunities at sea

Since she sailed south in February, Perry has been visited by nearly 40,000 people during deck tours in Philadelphia as well as in Jacksonville, Palm Beach, and the ports of call of the Tall Ships Gulf Challenge in Galveston, Pensacola and New Orleans. It sailed from Annapolis to Philadelphia with a group of Midshipman candidates from the Newport-based Naval Academy Prep School.

After the Aquidneck Island High Schools program, the ship will resume teen voyages, open to anyone between the ages of 14 and 18, this July and August along the Eastern Seaboard.

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is not a replica but a modern, steel-hulled vessel purpose-built for training and education to the highest modern safety standards. Rhode Island’s Official Sailing Education Vessel, she sails in New England and the Canadian Maritimes during the summer and in Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean in the winter.

More about the Aquidneck island High Schools Program

Daily sail training and team building exercises will integrate seven academic OHPRI Units of Study developed in 2016 with funding from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation. These Units of Study are aligned with the Rhode Island Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts-Literacy and are centered on ropes and lines, helm, sail evolution and theory, resource management and environmental responsibility, lookout, boat check and chart reading. Prior to the voyage, students will read OHPRI’s Trainee Manual for familiarization of the physical elements of the ship, maritime language, history of Newport’s Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry and basic seamanship skills. Students will practice journaling their experiences and record ocean health and habitat-related observations while on board the ship. The journal, provided by OHPRI, will include selections of marine poetry that can be referenced when composing daily entries.

Last spring, Rogers High School students participated in a grant-funded one-week voyage where they applied math and science skills to seamanship exercises to gain confidence in successfully operating the ship.

For more information on SSV Oliver Hazard Perry and its programs, visit www.ohpri.orgor contact, 401-841-0080. Follow OHPRI on Facebook and Twitterfor current news and developments. Track the ship’s voyages (updated every four hours)here. #OHPRI

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...