Friday, February 9, 2018

Two local students set sail for Cuba during winter break by Lorraine Glowczak

Ellen Clarke in center (wearing pink)
The Katahdin Program, a RSU#14 high school alternative education school, is proud to announce that two students, Owen Shepard, junior, and Ellen Clarke, senior, have been selected to participate in a 12-day sailing trip aboard the Tall Ship, Oliver Hazard Perry, from St. Petersburg, Florida to Cienfuegos, Cuba.

As part of Tall Ships Portland, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to maritime youth education, Shepard and Clarke as well as Katahdin teacher Christine Caputo and Katahdin headmaster, Rich Meserve will set sail with approximately 30 other Maine students on the round-trip educational adventure on Friday, February 16. This hands-on learning experience will provide discovery and study in the areas of leadership, culture, self-reliance, responsibility, team-work and much more.

To help defray some of the costs for the students and educators, the Katahdin Program is hosting a number of fundraising efforts. One such fundraiser, a variety show, will take place this Saturday, February 10 at the Windham Center Stage Theater, 8 School Road in Windham at 7 p.m. The show will include local talent and the cost is on a donation basis.

Originally known as the Real School, the Katahdin Program is based at Camp Hinds in Raymond, and provides alternative education programming for students, grades 9-12, in the RSU #14 Windham/Raymond School District.

Owen Sheard
This alternative program recognizes all variety of learners and focuses in students’ strengths, assets and interests. According to their website, “We believe that every individual is an important part of our learning community, in which our core values of integrity, safety, respect, responsibility, and kindness are central. We strive to foster meaningful relationships among our students and staff, through which we are able to provide individualized, standards-based programming for every student. Our practice is experiential and builds upon the integration of therapeutic adventure, service-learning, restorative practices, and community partnerships into classroom instruction.”

“This program has changed my son’s life,” stated Laurie Shepard, who is the mother of Owen. “He told me recently that the Katahdin Program, and the sailing experience to Cuba specifically, has opened doors to his awareness and interest in possible career opportunities that would not have been known to him otherwise.”, Shepard and Clarke, both participated in a Tall Ship Portland Program this past October. “It was their dedication to the educational experience along with showing high interest in the program that contributed to their selection on this trip,” Laurie Shepard explained.

“This is a remarkable opportunity for local teens to experience an entirely different world on many levels,” said Paul Wolf, Events Director for Tall Ships Portland. “Unplugged from technology, they quickly learn about teamwork, vigilance and harnessing the forces of nature.” 

While learning navigation, meteorology and sail handling, a one-week sailing voyage equates to one semester credit. “This is a great way for these teens to learn outside the classroom,” said Jon Radtke, Assistant Principal at Falmouth High School and Coordinator of the Cuba voyage. “Experiential learning has a profound effect on a student because they learn a lot.”

If you are unable to attend the Variety Show this Saturday and wish to contribute monetary donations to Shepard and Owen’s adventure, please send contributions to The Katahdin Program, 54 Hinds Rd., Raymond, ME 04071 or call (207) 655-6903.

Remember that these students are the ones who hold the future. Sir Andrew Martin is quoted as saying, “Our young people hold the future of the nation in their hands and deserve all the help we are able to give them in their developing years.”

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