Friday, May 27, 2011

New Start High School

By Zach Simonson-Bond

On a rainy day at Elliott Bay Marina, we waved goodbye to the New Start High School students as they walked away from Adventuress.  My eyes met the crew's and I could tell that they, like me, were experiencing a wide range of emotions.  Some eyes shimmered with tears, others shimmered with hope and inspiration.  Everyone's eyes were smiling.  Everyone was grateful to have sailed with New Start High School.

New Start High School is an alternative school with non-traditional programs to help its students succeed.  While the students may not have done well in traditional schools, they are determined to take full advantage of this opportunity to learn, grow and graduate.  And they are surrounded by people who care about their success.

Bev with her students
One of those supporters and advocates is Bev Mowrer.  She is a science teacher at New Start who is deeply passionate about finding opportunities for her students.  Through her endless energy and determination, she raised $1,000 to help put her students aboard Adventuress.  She wanted to use the voyage as incentive for her students to raise their grades and quit smoking.  Sound Experience was so moved by their story that we provided scholarship funding to pay for the rest of the voyage.

It was the right thing to do.

In my four years with Sound Experience, sailing on dozens of voyages, I have never seen such eager participants.  These students were gracious, hard working, and thirsty for every experience.  They were quick to smile and eager to help.  They embodied the spirit of Adventuress.

Students came with their own hopes for the voyage.  One student planned to join the Coast Guard after graduation and this was her first overnight experience on a boat.  Another was considering working in the marine trades.  But my favorite reason for coming was this:

Troy at the top of Adventuress' mainmast
"My grandpa's lifelong dream was to sail around the world.  He recently had to cut it short because he couldn't do it on his own anymore.  I want to learn as much as I can aboard Adventuress so I can help him finish his voyage." - Troy

That was merely the tip of a tremendously thoughtful and inspiring iceberg.

Their trip was short.  They spent two nights aboard Adventuress, but that was enough time to endear us to each other.  The bond happened so quickly, and so powerfully, that we were all choked up at their departure—it felt like we had known them for months.  I am certain the experience was even more powerful for them.  Here's what they had to say about their time on Adventuress:

"I learned how far I can push myself.  My experience opened my eyes and showed me that I can go forward and do more with my life.  I can work hard and work with others.  It's given me the push to want to be better." - Angela

"Before, I didn't know my classmates, but now, being on this ship, I feel like they're extended family.  Most of us didn't talk before and now we're communicating together." - Troy

"I've grown stronger, as in my will to do things.  When someone asks me to do something, I'll just to do it rather than waiting for someone else to do it.  I have more initiative and more respect for the things I do and what others do." - Nick

"I learned that even when I'm afraid, I can overcome those fears by taking one step forward. Just keep moving forward." - Katrina

"I learned to not be scared to do things.  It's ok to try something new.  Go out there, explore, see what's new in life and have fun." - Andres

New Start's journey has continued to have a powerful effect.  One student has already returned to Adventuress to volunteer for a week.  Bev was named Teacher of the Year for her district.  And Sound Experience continues to tell New Start's story as an example of the empowerment and community that can happen aboard Adventuress.

Volunteer Antonio chats to Cpt. Daniel

Keeping the ship safe on bow watch!

Rowing the dinghy, Ayashe

Furling the foresail
Jessica climbing aloft and rowing Ayashe

Mechanical advantage is a wondrous thing!

Everyone squeezes into the main cabin

Providing our own entertainment!

Doing the dishes

Thumbs up for washing the decks!

Scrubbing the sole boards (floors)

Nick checking the engine

Andres cleaning the soles

Jose hauls up the jib!

At the helm

Charting our location

Angela and Merilee 

Hanging out on the bowsprit

Bev performs as the crab zoea

We sang "La Bamba" and danced!

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