MIDDLETOWN, NJ - On a sunny morning in late September, The New School of Monmouth County held its 20th Annual Boat Day Event in a large in-ground swimming pool at a private residence in Middletown Township.
Due to many unforeseen circumstances including an exorbitantly priced one-day insurance rider (which for all past years had been free), complications with the school’s only bus, and difficulties coordinating all of these details with Sandy Hook’s special events office, Boat Day could not be held at Sandy Hook Beach as originally planned.
This year, the launch took place in a pool but none of the children felt it detracted from the event at all. With 6 boats in total, children took turns riding on each one and tested out how their designs held up in the placid blue water.
Each year the children from this school design and build large boats from milk cartons, plastic bottles and other recycled materials. They then board their boat creations and set sail on Sandy Hook Bay with help from teachers and parents. The boat launching has become an annual event attended by most of the parents, as well as graduates, friends and family.
The sea-faring children who range in age from five to fourteen attend The New School in Holmdel, NJ. The New School is a unique, ungraded private K-to-8 school where children of mixed ages are grouped into three classes (Younger, Middle and Older), rather than nine grades.
During the weeks prior to the launch, children of varying ages work together in small groups designing and constructing their boats. The materials for the boats are collected, sorted, counted and graphed in the first weeks of school and then distributed equally between the groups in order for them to build a one or two person boat.
The New School is located in the heart of Holmdel and is one of New Jersey’s best-kept private school secrets, having successfully educated scores of children since 1969. Much of the learning takes place outside of the classroom. Children are encouraged to immerse themselves in books, observe nature, play outside for hours, experiment and talk freely with each other and their teachers— and there are no grades or homework.