Why Vt. students are building a whaleboat - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Why Vt. students are building a whaleboat

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VERGENNES, Vt. -

Hammers, drills and wooden boards covered the boat workshop at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum as a group of students were hard at work.

"Centuries ago they used it to go and kill whales," said Howie Vander Wey, a 10th-grader.

But now, this whaleboat will help bring a piece of 18th century history back to life. The Diversified Occupations Program brought students from different schools together to learn the history of whaling. They then helped lay out the design and got to work.

"These students are sometimes at risk for having a difficult time in school, and this program gives them an opportunity to excel in different areas," said Erick Tichonuck, the executive director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

It's all a part of the Champlain Long Boats Program. Now in its 16th year, this is the first time students have built a whaleboat.

"I can't even tell how much I can learn from this, you gotta be here to learn this. You learn so much," Vander Wey said.

"It's been a nice experience so far and this is my first time making a whaleboat," says Kira Johnson, a 10th-grader.

Once completed, this whaleboat will be set aboard the Charles W. Morgan Ship in Connecticut. It is the last wooden whaling ship in America and once carried more than 50,000 barrels of whale oil to shore. The Charles W. Morgan will soon set sail from the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut on a symbolic journey-- its first voyage in 80 years. Eight other whaleboats are also being built throughout the U.S. to be set aboard the ship.

"I think they're really starting to get their heads around just how big this project is for us," Tichonuck said.

The project began five months ago. Students are also preparing to test the boat out on the water once it's competed with rowing exercises during lunch. Pulling the project together-- giving students new skills and a chance to recreate history.

The boat will be complete this spring before being sent off to Connecticut for its final voyage in May.

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