Dolphin Kids program completes eighth year
Named for its co-founder, Eileen Dolphin, The Block Island Maritime Institute (BIMI) Dolphin Kids program has completed its eighth summer of sponsoring urban students for a week of study and play on Block Island.
Four groups of Dolphin Kids participated in the BIMI program this year. The first group came from the Cristo Rey School in New York City, which sent the first group of Dolphin Kids to Block Island in 2006 (with funding secured by Eileen Dolphin). The Christ the King School from Newark, New Jersey was also a returning school.
These two were joined by two schools new to the program: The Cristo Rey School from Boston and the Paul Cuffee Charter School from Providence.
Each school selected 10 to 12 students that have an interest in science. Two leaders, typically teachers, accompany each group.
The Cristo Rey model was founded by Jesuits in Chicago in the 1990s. Now numbering 25 schools across the country, each Cristo Rey School offers a unique work/study program during which high school students spend one day a week working at a participating business, such as a bank, law firm, brokerage house, accounting firm, or hospital. Students attend regular classes the other four days a week; days are long, vacations brief, academic standards are high, uniforms are worn and discipline is maintained. The result: nearly all Cristo Rey graduates go on to college, many with scholarships.
The Paul Cuffee School (PCS) was founded in 2001 as a public charter school. Its goal was to create a school that would meet the individual needs of Providence’s diverse student population through a maritime-themed curriculum that would also promote social and civic skill-building, as well as outstanding academic learning. Beginning with 136 pupils in grades kindergarten through three, PCS now serves students through high school. In addition to rigorous, college-preparatory academics, PCS promotes extracurricular programs designed to bolster students’ physical and social well-being and sense of civic responsibility.
BIMI was founded in 1998 and provides aquariums, aquaculture education and marine and maritime educational programs to all age groups. BIMI’s mission is to preserve and promote the rich marine and maritime heritage of Block Island through education programs aimed at increasing the public’s awareness and knowledge of the island’s marine ecology and maritime history.
BIMI does not do it alone. Board members and others host dinners for each Dolphin group, which range from beach picnics to in-home dinners, to suppers at Payne’s Dock. The Dolphin Kids also participate in programs run by other Island organizations. To name a few: Kim Gaffett’s bird-banding operation supported by the Ocean View Foundation; water testing run by the Committee for the Great Salt Pond; littoral walks along Andy’s Way run by Steve Lightly of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Justin Abrams’ Farm at the Manisses; Southeast Light tours run by the Southeast Light Foundation; Block Island history walks conducted by Chris Littlefield of the Nature Conservancy; beach fishing with Ian Pollock of the Fishing Academy; walking the walls with Len Perfido on property maintained by the Block Island Conservancy; and lastly, BIMI’s own programs run by Sarah Nahabedian and her team of interns, Ryan, Rachael and Aaron.
If you would like to learn more about and/or support the work of BIMI, please visit the BIMI website (www.bimaritime.org) and click on the “contact” button.