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M’TOWN: THE FLEET’S INGROUND, AT BOAT DAY

boatday-3442163Scenes from the New School’s 20th Annual Boat Day — a event which this year almost found itself grounded ashore, before a group of resourceful parents, teachers and kids stepped in to relaunch the fun at an inground swimming pool.

It was going to be a milestone day for the institution that calls itself “one of New Jersey’s best-kept private school secrets” — the 20th annual outing in which the students and families of The New School design and build large boats from milk cartons, plastic bottles and other recycled materials. They would then board their boat creations and set sail on Sandy Hook Bay with help from teachers and parents.

Circumstances unfortunately conspired to make Boat Day 2013 a no-go, and it looked for a long moment as though the fleet would fail to set sail for the first time in memory — until a fearless crew of kids, parents and faculty banded together to help the event find safe new harbor, inside a large inground swimming pool at a private residence in Middletown Township.

According to Cornelia Mazzan, a parent and staff member at the Holmdel-based school for students of K to 8 ages, the trouble began with difficulties in coordinating details with the special events office at Sandy Hook, itself only recently back online following a massive repair-and-restore effort from the damages of Superstorm Sandy. The run of bad luck extended to problems with the school’s only bus, and culminated with “an exorbitantly priced one-day insurance rider, which for all past years had been free.”

A New School family stepped in to offer the use of their pool, and on a sunny morning in early autumn, a group of students ranging in age from five to fourteen (classes at TNS are divided into Younger, Middle and Older age groups, rather than the standard nine grades) took to the placid blue water in six custom-made watercraft, which they had constructed over the course of several weeks after collecting, sorting, counting and graphing the repurposed materials at the start of the school year.

“This year the launch took place in a pool, but none of the children felt it detracted from the event at all,” observed Mazzan in a press statement.

More information about The New School, a 44 year old facility at which “children are encouraged to immerse themselves in books, observe nature, play outside for hours, experiment and talk freely with each other and their teachers — and there are no grades or homework,” can be found here.

 

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