Tilton Elementary School teacher Heather Cote brought more than 100 third graders from Haverhill to Waterfront Park Wednesday to tour a tall ship and see the city for the the first time.
“Most of them have never been on a ship before,” Cody said. “Only about 25 out of 117 have ever been to Newburyport before.”
The group of 117 students came to Newburyport via school bus over the Gillis Memorial Bridge and were very impressed by the city, according to Cody.
“They were yelling out ‘there’s water on both sides!’” Cote said. “They couldn’t believe how big the ship is. They were so excited.”
Cote said she and her fellow teachers are always looking for something culturally enriching to provide their students.
“We found that a lot of the kids have never been out of Haverhill,” she said.
The Custom House Maritime Museum is hosting the Spanish tall ship on the waterfront until next Monday.
Cote is a friend of Custom House board member Ken Jackman and asked if she could bring her class to see the 200-ton replica of Christopher Columbus’s vessel. Jackman was happy to help with tour tickets and local law firm Finneran & Nicholson, P.C. sponsored the students’ trip to Newburyport.
“We’re happy to do it,” said Tom Nicholson, president of the law firm. “We appreciate the opportunity the Custom House has given us and we think it’s a great opportunity for the kids and a great opportunity for the firm.”
The Tilton students toured the Maritime Museum Wednesday morning before boarding Nao Santa Maria for a personalized tour.
Although the students live in Haverhill, many of their families hail from Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
“We had already gone over Christopher Columbus and that history,” Cote said. “So this is really bringing history alive for them.”
Tilton student Rosali Almonte said Wednesday was “the best field trip ever.”
“It was awesome, because it was my first time (on a ship) and we got to go on the water,” she said. “I thought it was going to be smaller.”
Almonte’s experience was not unique among her fellow students.
Brianna Pin said she thought she and her fellow students might be able to “sail the boat,” while Brittany Collado admitted she was “scared that the boat was going to tip over.”
“I’m really scared of water,” she said. “But I’m over my fear now.”
Fabian Mateo also thought the students might take the ship out for a spin but said he liked the captain’s quarters.
The ship’s replica of a 15th century toilet was also a big hit with the third graders.
“We’re very fortunate to have Finneran & Nicholson sponsor us,” Cody said. “There was not one dollar which was paid by our students. Even a $5 contribution would have been really, really difficult for some of us. So, we are very, very lucky.”