DIRIGO STORIES: 'Little boat' teaches big lessons in alternative education class

Kennebunkport (WGME) -- A boat on its way across the Atlantic has no captain and no crew -- not in the traditional sense.

Its crew is the Alternative Education class at Kennebunk High School. They bought a boat building kit with a grant in September, and through community partnerships with the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, The Landing School, and Educational Passages, the boat launched around Christmas.

"Now is the fun part," said senior Josh Ellis, who was the project manager. "We get to see where it goes."

The hope is the boat reaches Ireland where a class will examine the boat and the data it's collecting. The students named it "The Little Boat that Could."

Leia Lowery, the Educational Director at Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, says the "Little Boat" was the perfect project for the class.

"It was the perfect combination of science and social studies and world cultures," Lowery said. "There's so many ways we can integrate that not only into our community, but into their core subjects. "

The project has proven more than just alternative classroom lessons.

"Last year I had 140 absences and i was on the verge of dropping out," said Kristin Cofferen, a junior in her second semester with alternative education.

Cofferen is now thinking about college.

"I see it in my future thanks to Jacqui Holmes and Ed Sharood," she said.

Sharood, the alternative education teacher, and Holmes, the program's ed tech, say the boat project is just one of many programs they develop for their students who, for whatever reason, aren't finding success in a mainstream classroom.

"We're all constantly learning together, and that feels really powerful, and meaningful and special," Holmes said.

To follow the "Little Boat's" progress CLICK HERE.

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