In July, 18 Boston Day and Evening Academy students set sail for Ellis Island in the school’s second 5th Quarter partnership with World Ocean School. Students focused on the question “Why do people take risks for freedom and opportunity?” and utilized Schooner Roseway, a tall ship historic to the Boston Harbor and the platform for World Ocean School, as their classroom and home. Students explored and synthesized this essential question through the examination of case studies of immigrants traveling through Ellis Island, listening to stories of escaped slaves living in New Bedford, and taking personal risks aboard Roseway with the facilitation of BDEA teachers and Roseway crew.
Though this voyage posed personal challenges (as life at sea often does), students departed Roseway fulfilled. The students who feared they’d be working and learning in solitude were pleasantly comforted by the powerful student-crew camaraderie. The students who were uneasy about separation from the comforts of land were excited to return to Roseway after on-shore excursions–they felt the boat was a healthy environment for them. The students who were apprehensive about the challenge of living on a tall ship were the proudest when the returned to the deck after climbing the rigging or spending time on the bowsprit. Pushing through discomfort and overcoming these challenges filled BDEA sailors with pride.
Successfully voyaging to Ellis Island was arguably the most profound aspect of this program. It was a tremendous milestone for students to know they helped sail Roseway to this destination. They had reached their goal. Even more, exploration of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty left many students in awe. Immersion in this historic setting put the student’s studies into an authentic context. Continuing this immersive learning with a walking tour of New Bedford focused on the Underground Railroad and a visit to the New Bedford Whaling Museum showed students that pieces of history can be found close to home.
After 2 weeks of unparalleled experiential learning, students were warmly welcomed back to Boston with a dock party attended by family and friends. Student’s family, friends, BDEA teachers, and Roseway crew are immensely proud of these 18 sailors for their intentional choice to dive into a challenging program, for pushing themselves in their academics and recognizing that their efforts do not go unnoticed, and opening themselves to each other and contributing to the ship’s company. They proved to be good shipmates to one another, and departed Roseway as accomplished sailors, students, and friends.
Photo Credit: World Ocean School and Boston Public Schools