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Saturday, April 20, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsRoseway Cancels School Classes

Roseway Cancels School Classes

Students from Eulalie Rivera Elementary School disembark from Roseway Friday.The schooner Roseway has turned St. Croix sixth graders into day sailors for the last nine years, but because of a miscommunication and a lack of funding, the ship’s owner announced Friday it had to cancel this year’s Discovering Salt River program – leaving about 400 of students stranded.

For the past two years, the National Park Service has provided $32,000 for the Roseway to take 16 groups of students to sea. The goal, over the years, has been to provide the experience for every sixth grader in St. Croix public schools.

According to Abby Kidder, president of World Ocean School, which owns Roseway, NPS funding was promised again as recently as two months ago. So the tall ship sailed to St. Croix from Gloucester, Maine, and scheduled the grade schools. This week, they were notified by NPS staff that the funding is not available.

Joel Tutein, NPS superintendent, told the Source, he “never made the commitment to them.” He said his allocation from the U.S. Government for this year didn’t follow a formal budget and since he needed to fund jobs, he didn’t request the funds for Roseway.

“I didn’t budget it. For the last two years, I had money and I did,” Tutein said.

Because an NPS grant is unlikely at this point, 400 other students will be denied the experience unless funding from another source can be found. In the past, schools have raised money and private corporations have contributed to the program. Kidder said the program costs about $2,000 a day.

“They were promised this program and the schools have been awesome at scheduling the transportation and making sure the kids were ready to go. It’s heartbreaking to have to tell them it’s not going to happen,” she said.

Before learning the funds were not available, the Roseway followed its schedule and took students from Juanita Gardine and Eulalie Rivera schools to sea last week.

Friday afternoon, sixth graders from Eulalie Rivera Elementary School enjoyed the daylong experience – sailing into Salt River, learning basic navigation from the Roseway crew and climbing the rigging. At the end of the day, they exited the vessel with happy grins and slapping high fives all around.

“They learned about boats, navigation, the environment and the mangroves,” said Rivera teacher Dawn Rey. “The most important thing they learned was teamwork and respect.”

Until Friday, Discovering Salt River was a two-part program. Students spend one day at Columbus Landing with the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the second day at sea. After a day exploring the historic site, students learn about navigating into the Salt River Bay much like Columbus in 1493.

“It’s a very curriculum-tied program,” Kidder said.

Other programs, funded by Tropical Shipping and Cane Bay Partners, include week-long sailing classes for Ricardo Richards and Pearl B. Larsen Elementary students and sessions for St. Thomas students in March. The Roseway also will sail with college students in the British Virgin Islands in January.

Asked who paid for the students from Rivera and Gardine schools to sail this month, Kidder said WOS “gave them away” hoping the grant would come through.

“We didn’t fund them. So this weeks programs went unfunded – our gift to the community,” she said.

The Roseway spends the summers along the east coast working with inner-city youth.

The 137-foot schooner was built in 1925 and is registered as a U. S. National Historic Landmark.

While in St. Croix waters, the Roseway will raise funds with sunset sails every day except Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. In March, a fundraising gala will be held at the Ha’Penny Club.

Information, including how to schedule a sail or make donations, is online at www.worldoceanschool.org. 

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