While some kids might want to spend their Saturdays playing video games or watching television, a group of Greenport kids can hardly wait to get dressed -- and head back to school.
Every Saturday morning since October, Greenport students have gathered at the Little Red Schoolhouse on Front Street to learn about Peconic Bay with fifth grade teacher Diane Eissler, Captain David Berson, and art instructor Meg Bennett.
Berson has utilized his solar-powered electric boat, Glory, for Glory Going Green, a not-for-profit organization that has offered free educational programs to local children for over five years.
During the summer, Captain Dave partners with North Fork libraries to offer popular storybook classes. Each June he sponsors free science programs about Peconic Bay for Greenport fifth graders, also aboard Glory.
Greenport Elementary School principal Joseph Tsaveras said students enrolled in the Saturday science program have been working on experiments and writing projects; students are able to board the Glory and explore the shore.
The students, Tsaveras said, missed only one Saturday, due to snow."They love it," he said. "One student was planning to take a trip on the ferry to visit family but told his parents he didn't want to miss the program -- so they changed their ferry time."
In order to be accepted into the Saturday schoolhouse program, which is new this year, students wrote essays. The program is offered free to the district and to students. After the first four weeks, students penned an additional essay as their "admission fee" for subsequent classes. Approximately 50 students overall have participated in the program.
In class the kids keep journals of the natural world, examine specimens with microscopes, and complete a science-related art project.
“I love the Saturday program,” said one student. “I loved all the clams, lobsters, and nests we learned about.”
“I learned what you can do with watercolors and drawing,” added another.
Yet another student said he enjoyed being able “to learn without sitting down most of the time."
And no one minded getting up early on a weekend. If she didn’t come to the Saturday program, wrote one student in her essay, “I’d be watching TV by myself. I appreciate the time you spend with us and getting up early.”
“We’re very excited that this program will continue next fall,” said Tsaveras. "Everyone benefits from a hands-on learning environment, especially since what they’re learning on Saturdays complements the school’s curriculum.
The schoolhouse program will continue throughout the spring.