Schenectady County

Maritime students get to row their boats

Students at Capital Region BOCES Maritime Academy got to row their class projects in the Mohawk Rive

Students at Capital Region BOCES Maritime Academy got to row their class projects in the Mohawk River on Tuesday.

The students launched six prams — small 6-foot wooden rowboats — after a short ceremony at the school. Eighteen middle school students from across the Capital Region took part in this year’s alternative education program.

Donald Waddell, technology education teacher, said he was impressed by the quality of students’ efforts this year. He said they started out their woodworking classes by building benches for a pavilion area and then constructed a 24-by-3-foot work bench. Then, they worked their way up to constructing the individual rowboats. Waddell merely showed them the techniques.

“All the work you see — everything — was by the kids here,” he said.

He said the students were so dedicated to the project that they even worked on the boats during their free time.

The students dropped the boats in the water and then went for a brief circuit on the river.

Students spend all day at the Maritime Academy, which caters to those with special needs. Principal Pedro Roman said a lot of the students come to the school reading below grade level. The lessons at the school incorporate various subjects across disciplines. In addition, they have a social worker that helps students in English and history. The school also focuses on promoting positive behavior.

Fourteen-year-old Bradley Mertins, an eighth-grader from Latham, said building the boat was hard but fun.

“I just enjoy doing it — getting to work with my hands with a small group of kids,” he said.

Sixth-grader Johny Merritt, 13, of Schenectady, also enjoyed the program.

“It was really more hands-on than reading about the boats,” he said.

Some like, 13-year-old eighth-grader Austin Williams of Schenectady said he initially thought the task of building a boat was daunting.

“I didn’t want to do it. It seemed like so much work. I learned by the end of the year, it’s a lot easier than I would have guessed,” he said.

Williams is going to attend the Career Center at Steinmetz in the fall. He would like to build for a living.

“Mr Waddell says he’s been paid a thousand dollars for a simple project, so I might want to do this,” he said.

His father, Tim Williams, proudly looked on during the ceremony.

“I like the staff here and they’re very much focused on the children,” he said.

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