Students from Northeast High School tested their handcrafted rowboats on the reservoir at the Discovery Center in Fairmount last week after making the boats in an after-school club.
The students stayed after school for 2 1/2 hours every day for 16 weeks to complete the boats, which are made totally of wood.
The boat launch was the first time their creations were tested in water, and students had the opportunity to paddle around the reservoir.
Yousra Mikou, a student who primarily painted the boat, said she felt calm and happy on the water.
“How many kids can say they went out after school and built a boat with their bare hands, painted it, and are now on the lake with it? Not many, not many,” she said.
One of the two boats sprung a small leak, but overall, the launch was a success. Students took turns rowing around in the boats that they built, or kayaks provided by the center.
Andrew Adams, who runs Project SPARC, ran the after-school program. He said the program was helpful for both himself and students who experienced personal tragedy and all-around isolation during these pandemic times.
“It was like a team-building thing, so it was just natural,” Adams said. “It was like, ‘OK, you’re interested in STEM? Let’s go explore the real world of STEM,’ ” he said.
Shourob Khalil, an NEHS senior, said he met Adams at the summer program. He joined the club as a manager.
“I loved doing it, every single after school day. We did it every Wednesday, then we moved it to every Thursday. But I liked doing it, so I came every single day,” Khalil said. “I loved working in teams, the communication I would say.”
The students laughed and splashed as they navigated paddling and steering on the water. For some, this was only their first or second time kayaking or paddling in water.
According to Adams, they plan to auction off one boat to the alumni association to sponsor the next group’s materials, and they will donate the other or use it as a recruitment tool.
“It’s just been focusing on something positive. It’s about seeing something at the end of the tunnel. There’s no better way to celebrate the end of the school year than to get out on a reservoir in a boat that you built,” Adams said.