2017-11-09 / Front Page

Point of Sail

Learning the Ropes


(Photo by Meri Keller) (Photo by Meri Keller) The Sail Newport Pell School Sailing Program, a joint effort between Pell and Sail Newport, is giving the fourth-grade class, approximately 189 students, the opportunity to learn the basics of sailing on 22-foot boats. Simultaneously, program administrators are building in a classroom curriculum that works in concert with the lessons kids are learning at Pell, according to the program’s creator Donna Kelly, who took the year off from a 15-year teaching tenure at Pell to make her dream a reality. The second half of the program kicks off next spring. Here, Nory Whitaker (middle) and Brody Roberts observe as instructor Brian Kobernuss shows them the ropes.

On Nov. 8, Pell Elementary fourth-graders wrapped up the first eight weeks of a pilot program to test their mettle at Sail Newport.

“These kids are now rigging the boats, sailing off the docks, steering to specific points of interest, and getting back on the dock with the instructors,” said Donna Kelly, also the Education Committee chairwoman for Sail Newport. “We have a great group of instructors researching 9- and 10-year-olds and how they learn. They’ve been so thoughtful in making this program successful.”

While they were off the boats, students sharpened their pencils in Sail Newport’s new Sailing Center in Fort Adams State Park, where they studied weather, mapping, geology and erosion. Two groups per day attended experiential education classes from Monday-Thursday during the program.

“It’s been an amazing community effort,” Kelly said, noting that while the program was funded by Sail Newport, others helped make it possible. “The kids are enthusiastic, they’re excited.”

One fourth-grader recalled the program fondly. “The best weeks in my life,” she wrote to instructors on Sail Newport stationary. “I learned so much.”

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