Tall ship touted as learning platform in Rhode Island

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Thirteen Rhode Island teachers and school administrators discussed the positive impact that their state’s official sailing education vessel, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, will have, not only on their curriculums, but also their motivation for teaching in new ways.

The group, including Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist, had just toured the weather deck and lower hull of the steel tall ship, which is under construction at Senesco Marine in North Kingstown, R.I.

Though outfitting the ship with its three 13-story masts, six miles of rigging and 14,000 square feet of sails is still to come, the rapidly evolving work in progress made a massive impression — even more so when it was explained that its Great Cabin (the aft meeting room) will be completed in time for a July 5-7 Dedication Weekend in Newport.

“That will be a milestone, for sure,” Jess Wurzbacher, the ship’s director of operations, who has spent six years at sea teaching, said in a statement. “But this is much bigger than Rhode Island simply having an amazing tall ship to call our own. This is about changing the lives of children and young adults while inspiring the teachers who devote their own lives to challenging them.”

Gist endorsed the Oliver Hazard Perry project in late 2010.

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