Students travel from Maine to Biloxi on 135-foot schooner for school field trip

The students will visit Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama as their last stops while sailing on the 50 year old Harvey Gamage schooner.
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 6:48 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - School field trips are taking on a whole new meaning as a collective of courageous students from the Northeast set sail on a multi-city excursion.

Touring ten cities across the U.S., 19 ambitious juniors and seniors from Proctor Academy in New Hampshire and Met High School in Rhode Island are learning American history while boating a 135-foot wooden schooner as part of Proctor Academy’s Ocean Classroom Program.

“Getting students out of the classroom and having authentic education that with real-life experience is a great thing to do, and there’s no better platform than to do that on a tall ship,” says Brooks Bicknell, Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom Director. “We study everything from mechanics of sail to marine biology, history, and literature.”

The two-month trip taught the students many life lessons. For 12th grader Mohamed Darraeji, he said he’s matured a lot over the last few weeks.

“It honestly feels gratifying from being just a little baby to growing up,” Darraeji said. “I’ve grown as a person honestly. It feels good to do this as like a final project of mine.”

While having the privilege of leaving the classroom behind to explore various cultures sounds like a dream, Proctor senior Elliott Norris said this trip has been a huge challenge.

“Waking up at 4 a.m. to stand watch for four hours and then go back to bed and get another four hours of sleep and then you’re up again,” Norris said. “Not having the greatest sleep schedule is what I would say is probably the hardest part.”

For these Gen-Z kids who are usually glued to social media, this trip also challenged how they connect without internet access.

“They have to give up their cellphones at the beginning,” Bicknell said. “They get a couple calls home to mom and dad during the voyage, and then they’ll get their phones back. I think they grow to appreciate that.”

Despite the hardships they faced, many of the students said they would do it again in a heartbeat.

“This is like the opportunity of a lifetime,” Darraeji said. “Just being able to go on a trip because many kids sit in their rooms and don’t really do much. I was kind of like that before I went on this trip. Honestly, I feel like I’ve become more extroverted because of this trip. It just feels good to become a part of a community.”

The students will visit Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama as their last stops while sailing on the 50-year-old Harvey Gamage schooner.

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