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October 5, 2012

Sailing into history

Fifth-graders study heritage on field trip

It’s become a tradition for fifth-graders attending Gloucester’s public schools.

Every fall, the city’s fifth-grade classes take a field trip to explore this seaport’s maritime heritage, visiting the Cape Ann Museum and taking a cruise aboard the schooner Thomas E. Lannon.

On a beautiful fall day, Sept. 27, pupils from Grace Scola’s class at Plum Cove Elementary School had their turn.

They started the day at the museum, where museum educator Liza Browning led them on a tour that started on the main floor with the historical painting collection and ended upstairs with a close-up look at some antique boats and old-fashioned fishing equipment.

Then the schoolchildren and their chaperones walked to the docks, where they enjoyed a picnic lunch before boarding the Lannon for a two-hour cruise. Built in 1997, the Lannon is modeled after the Gloucester swordfishing schooner Nokomis, which was built in Essex in 1903. The Lannon is named after owner and skipper Tommis Ellis’ maternal grandfather, who fished out of Gloucester in the early 20th century.

When the Lannon was out of the harbor, the Plum Cove fifth-graders helped hoist the sails. Crew member Michael O’Leary of Gloucester taught them how to tie knots and sing traditional sea shanties.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip for many was the moment when Ellis allowed each child to briefly take control of the wheel.

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