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Sail Newport opens Harbor Classroom for Pell students

“They can’t wait to get on the water,” says Kevin Bolano, a fourth-grade teacher at Pell Elementary School “

The spring semester of the Sail Newport Pell School Science and Sailing Program started last week with two fourth grade classes arriving by school bus to the Sailing Center in Fort Adams on May 3.   The remaining five classes of fourth graders will also attend the program, which runs Monday through Thursday for eight weeks this spring.

Each day of the program two classes take turns for the classroom segment and sailing on a Sail Newport J/22 with an instructor.  The program integrates STEM topics related to the marine environment, including ocean sustainability, marine life, salinity, organisms, and ocean habitat.

Today’s shoreside portion focused on a coastal clean-up of debris. The students collected trash, recorded the contents, and learned about the impact of trash on our ocean, beaches, and ocean animals. One student emphasized how bad paint chemicals are not only for the animals, but also for humans’ food source.

The sailing portion for the other half of the time spent at Sail Newport includes water safety training, knot-tying and rigging and sailing boat.  With an instructor onboard, the students work together to move the boat forward by handing jib and main lines to the sails.

“The students learn remarkably fast,” says Sail Newport Program Director Kim Hapgood. By June, the young sailors will know the major parts of the boat, be able to tie a few essential knots and know the basics of sailboat handling.” 

The experience stays with the students on many levels, Hapgood says.  “It’s remarkable how much the students retained from their Fall sailing experience.”

Bolano adds that the program also enriches the classroom learning at school.  “The students talk about what they see like landmarks and other things that they don’t see from land. They can make connections to what they learned in class.

Also, the learning experience, he says, will inspire the students to come back to Sail Newport and do another program. In addition, Bolano says,  “This experience opens up an avenue for a career later on since they live on the water.”

Hapgood co-founded the program and Sail Newport Executive Director Brad Read, Second Grade Teacher Donna Kelley, Pell administrators and teachers, STEM specialists, and Superintendent of Schools Colleen Burns Jermain.

The program is free to Newport Public Schools and funded entirely by Sail Newport with support from 11th Hour Racing,  Enbridge Fueling Futures, the Gruben Charitable Foundation, Peter and Melinda Gerard and Loti Falk Family Fund, and the Robert Dudley Harrington, Jr. Charitable Foundation. 

Bolano adds that he looks forward to Tuesdays because “I see the students looking forward to it so much. The experience is huge,”  he says.

Source: Sail Newport