balclutha

ALL ABOARD — Fourth graders line up in front of the Balclutha, a historic ship docked in San Francisco. 

Mid-March field trip teaches teamwork, collaboration

Just before schools were told to adopt distance learning practices, Cloverdale fourth graders took an overnight trip to the Balclutha, a 134-year-old cargo ship docked at Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco. As part of their mission, the students had to learn all of the ins and outs of being an old-time boat crew.

After the trip, which ran from March 9-11 (two classes went from March 9-10 and two from March 10-11), the fourth graders had planned to present information about the trip to the Cloverdale Unified School District Board of Trustees, but were unable to due to COVID-19. In place of the presentation, one of the teachers who organized the trip, Rachel Howson, reached out to the Reveille to share some of the work her students, as well as fourth graders from Paul Cogorno, Jonni Conway and Becki Maloney’s classes did in preparation for the trip.

“Leading up to the trip, the kids did a lot of preparation in-class. They were working together to learn the roles that they were assigned,” Howson said. “There’s a variety of different crews (boat crew, rigger crew, etc.). They’re all broken into crews, and they need to learn different tasks.”

This is the first time Cloverdale students have been able to go on the Age of Sail trip in awhile, Howson said, students in Cloverdale used to go on the trip, but there was a long pause between the last Age of Sail trip and this one. Howson took students on the trip when she was a teacher in Alameda, and was excited to try and bring the trip back to Cloverdale.

“I think it’s really important for our kids to have the opportunity to go to San Francisco — some of them may have never crossed the Golden Gate Bridge or spent time there,” Howson said. “It’s also just really amazing because the teachers and the chaperones kind of take an observer’s role. They’re really not active participants; they’re there for safety.”

While the Balclutha never leaves the pier, students who participate in the trip are treated as if they’re part of an early twentieth century boat crew and have to adopt different roles in accordance with the time period. Some duties include washing the deck, keeping bell time, as well as a handful of other tasks.

Howson said that while the trip provides a nice look into the past, it also helps teach other life skills as well.

“It’s mostly about teamwork and collaboration,” she said. “They’re doing tasks that are difficult to them, that they’re not familiar with, but the important thing is they have an opportunity to collaborate and do things on their own.”

One of the reasons the fourth graders were able to go on the trip was with funding from both the CARE (Cloverdale Adds Resources for Education) Foundation, which awarded them a $5,000 grant for the trip, and the John Jordan Foundation, which contributed a $500 grant.

While Howson couldn’t guarantee that the trip will happen again next year, she said that she heard third graders talking about being excited to potentially get a chance to go on the field trip.

“I hope that we can do it again, because I think that the kids were really excited about it,” Howson said. “There was a lot of positive feedback from the parents and the students.” 

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