Maine youths build wooden skiffs for school project

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Eighth-graders from the South Bristol School in Maine scrambled on Friday to finish building wooden skiffs so they can make a scheduled June 14 launch into South Bristol Harbor.

They’re a bit behind schedule, volunteer Kate Beaudette told the Bangor Daily News, with only three Fridays left before an event that has drawn much local media attention.

Thalia Eddyblouin, 13, braced the cedar planks of a 12-foot boat at the Maine Maritime Museum boat shop while her classmate, 14-year-old Jillian Page, drilled pilot holes to prepare the sides for wooden frames.

The class of five students has worked every Friday since September to build two flat-bottomed skiffs made of cedar and red and white oak. When the boats are finished, one will be sold by the museum and the other will be raffled by the school to benefit its boatbuilding program and help finance an eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C.

Page said making the planks was the hardest part. “It really splinters. … You don’t want to make an entire boat out of oak because it’s so heavy,” Eddyblouin told the Bangor Daily News.

Principal Scott White said the program, funded by the school district and the Nancy and Herbert Burns Foundation, gives students the opportunity to apply math and history outside the classroom.

“It’s a great tradition, obviously, that’s kind of dying,” said Kurt Spiridakis, who runs the Maine Maritime Museum boat shop. “To be able to pass that on in some small way is great.”

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