Connecticut Schooner Festival Launches Education Effort to Highlight State’s Maritime Heritage

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State of Connecticut comes aboard as major sponsor

GROTON, Conn. (August 12, 2013) – Educating students about the state’s rich maritime heritage and its role in the development of our state and nation will be a central focus of the Connecticut Schooner Festival, September 11 – 15, at Mystic Seaport and in New London. At a press conference held today at The Branford House on the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut, event organizers outlined the educational programming for the inaugural five-day festival, and announced that the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism has come aboard as a major sponsor for this year’s event.

Festival Chairman John S. Johnson made the announcement today praising UCONN for being a leader in courses relating to marine science, maritime studies and American studies.

“We’re proud to be able to partner with UCONN and every public school district from Stonington through East Lyme, plus LEARN,” said Johnson. “With this superb group of Connecticut educators we will be offering Connecticut students a valuable program. With our partners, we will be giving a lot of young people—tomorrow’s leaders—an opportunity to learn something important about our maritime past and to have fun while doing it.”

“Schooners played an important part in helping our nation win its independence and they also played a significant role in the commerce that made our state thrive. Today, they play a key role in teaching people about the sea and its role in our daily life,” added Johnson.

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The schooner festival begins at Mystic Seaport, with a series of dockside education programs for school groups from different parts of Connecticut and nearby Fisher’s Island.

Additionally, students will be aboard the schooner Quinnipiack, the 91-foot educational vessel operated on Long Island Sound from its New Haven home by Schooner, Inc. The students will be taking part in educational exercises.

Some of the education partners will also set up displays on the waterfront in New London when the schooners leave the Seaport on Sept. 13. The festival is also working with LEARN, the regional education service center in southeastern Connecticut, on a long-term project that is designed to bring Connecticut’s history and maritime heritage into classrooms throughout the state.

The educational effort is being headed by Dr. Joseph Geraci of New London, a retired educator. He addressed the importance of this part of the festival:

“The education component of the schooner festival is important because it brings attention to the maritime history of Connecticut. It is a history rich in seamanship, ship building, food sources and defense of the country. It is important that Connecticut’s maritime history not be forgotten, rather emphasized through instruction and experiences to each succeeding generation.

“With that goal in mind the education component of the schooner festival will bring together a partnership of area educational institutions comprised of students, teachers and administrators. At the festival the institutions will share and demonstrate their maritime programs with each other and the community. Students will also have instruction and hands on activities on the schooners.

“A long range goal is to develop a teacher’s guide and multi discipline curriculum on Connecticut’s maritime culture and history. It will be used use in area school districts and serve as a model for the rest of the state. That process has already begun.”

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The education partners are:
UCONN, Avery Point; LEARN, and the local school districts in: Stonington, Groton, New London, Waterford, East Lyme, Ledyard, Montville as well as the Fisher’s Island school system.

Also, Mystic Seaport, Connecticut River Museum, Marine Science Magnet School of Southeastern Connecticut, Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin College, Schooner Inc. – New Haven, Sound Waters – Stamford.

Overall Festival sponsors are:
The Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, WNLC radio, The Day Publishing Co., Pfizer, Dominion, Coca Cola, People’s United Bank, F&F Distributors, Dime Bank, Ocean Beach Park, Charter Oak Credit Union, INK Publications, Copy Cats, EasyMeetings.net, Lombardi Gravel & Excavation, New London Parking Garage, New London Harbour Towers, Jay Levin, and Valet Park America.

— Posted on August 13, 2013 pm31 4:15 pm