Ocean Classroom Graduates Thirty-six Students on PYS Waterfront

Alix T. Thorne & Peter D. Coburn at Ocean Classroom Homecoming Today

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,427)

This morning Ocean Classroom graduated thirty-six students from a seventeen week educational program at sea. The graduation was followed by a picnic dinner on the waterfront of Portland Yacht Services, owned by Joanna and Phineas Sprague, Jr.

The students had just completed a seventeen week semester at sea that originated in St. Thomas aboard two schooners – one owned by Ocean  Classroom Foundation, the Harvey Gamage and the other – Virginia – chartered from  Norfolk, Virginia from the Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation.  (See post  herein dated 7/29/2009 for more information on the Virginia) The two schooners followed different courses, but both logged in well over 5,000 miles each said Alix T.Thorne, founder of the esteemed Foundation.  Both arrived in Portland Harbor this morning within several hours of each other.

“There are some kids for whom every day in school is a trial.  Every day they feel like a failure.  School is a narrow channel and the world is much larger than that,” said Peter D. Coburn, a trustee of the non-profit at a picnic dinner late this afternoon.  “There is always something we can contribute and become successful at.  That’s when we all feel good because we are contributing to our community. A ship is a microcosm of life.  These are new opportunities to find out how terrific these kids are,” Coburn said.  Coburn is a retired teacher, former instructor at Outward Bound and currently owns his own business, Commercialogic; www.commercialogic.com.   “There is power in working in a group.”

Thorne, who earned a 100 – ton Master and 1600 -ton Near Coastal Mate’s license, began working with educational programs on schooners in 1991.  In 1996 she founded the Ocean Classroom with the Harvey Gamage and the Westwind as at sea classrooms.  The Westwind is docked at Portland Yacht Services for the summer.  She is currently undergoing a five year rennovation plan in conjunction with the US Coast Guard.

Thorne believes “in the power of education at sea to transform lives and to educate young people in both the importance of stewardshp of the marine envronment and in understanding our maritime history and traditions of our nation.”

For more information on the Ocean Classroom Foundation, please call 207 – 563-3266 or mail@oceanclassroom.org