Making new waves

Students in St. Katherine of Siena’s Noah Club spent the last six months building a boat. Last week, they set sail.

Row, row, row your boat: Students in St. Katherine of Siena’s Noah Club worked with Nick Pagon, executive director of Philadelphia Waterborne, to build a boat. Since December, eight seventh-graders worked on the construction and on May 11, set sail in the Poquessing Creek. JOHN COLE / TIMES PHOTOS

It’s a pretty rewarding feeling to build something from scratch. It’s even better to “sea” it through.

On May 11, students in St. Katherine of Siena’s Noah Club finally saw all of their hard work come to fruition.

A slew of new clubs have been added at St. Katherine’s in recent years, but this particular club gives students the opportunity to take their talents beyond land.


Earlier in the school year, the faculty at St. Katherine’s held a meeting at Glen Foerd on the Delaware. Marc Fischer, seventh- and eighth-grade social studies teacher, recalled walking around the grounds of the property and hearing about the unique opportunities presented at Glen Foerd.

The faculty became aware of an opportunity to have a select group of students work with someone associated with Glen Foerd to build a boat. This was an opportunity too good to pass on.

“Of course, I wanted to be a part of it,” said Fischer.

The man for the job to lead the students through this new venture? Nick Pagon.

Pagon, executive director of Philadelphia Waterborne, started the group in 2013. For the past five years, he has helped students from several Philadelphia schools build rowboats. He has helped build 45 rowboats with students thus far, but St. Katherine’s was the first Catholic school to join in this endeavor.

“It starts as a pile of lumber,” says Pagon. “So they (the students) have to learn to cut and drill and screw and hammer and nail and glue and it’s a whole process of putting the boat together. Almost entirely from scratch.”

Since December, eight seventh-graders from St. Katherine’s met weekly to build a boat.

“It’s nice, everyone was working together; the boys and girls had no issues,” said Fischer, who has helped the group from the beginning. “They were just excited to do work, hands-on work.”

The construction and painting of the boat all paid off when they were finally able to set sail in the Poquessing Creek on May 11.

Four boats were present to set sail, including the boat the Noah Club had made. There were two students in each boat and a parent guiding the boat. For many students, this was their first time rowing and the most rewarding part of the whole process.

“My favorite part was learning how to row, “ said Catherine Argentina. “it was a really good experience to take it out in the water.”

For about an hour, the members of the Noah Club set sail and were able to learn how to row and take in the atmosphere.

“They start as eight individuals,” said Pagon. “(Then) you see them gelling into a team and working together.”

By the end of the summer, Glen Foerd hopes to have a new dock put in place to help rowboats set sail. ••