Seaport Academy Celebrated an Alternative Thanksgiving
Alumni at the small alternative all-boys school shared their experiences with current students at Seaport's Thanksgiving celebration.
For the young men of Seaport Academy, the day before Thanksgiving was not a reunion of just biological family, but rather of a certain kind of family that grows from shared experience, from difficult times faced together.
Students, alumni, families, and former employees of Seaport Academy — the 28-student alternative all-boys school on Flagship Wharf — gather every year the day before Thanksgiving for food and time together. It's a reunion for all those associated with Seaport. About six alumni host a panel discussion for the current students, who can ask about the Seaport experience, or what happens when they enter the real world, said Alex Tsonas, the school's director.
"It's an opportunity for students here to connect with guys who have done it," said Tsonas. "[The alumni] show you can do it, convey that you can do it. To graduate is a lot more profound."
Seaport Academy is a private school serving young men in the Greater Boston area with various disabilities, whether learning or emotional, in grades 8 to 12. The students are referred to Seaport by their original schools, as an alternative option.
The school was founded in 1999 and is affiliated with Schools For Children, an organization that manages several other schools Massachusetts, mostly geared towards children with learning disabilities or who require other nontraditional approaches. Students commute in or are dropped off weekdays for class.
At Seaport, teachers focus on hands-on and project-based learning. The school is on the wharf, and so many lessons incorporate the water. Other lessons take the boys around Boston, or outside the city to destinations in the White Mountains or New York City.
"We do a lot of work in and around the harbor," said Tsonas. "The world is our classroom."
The focus of Seaport is not just on teaching lessons, but on preparing the students for life outside of school. Students can take classes at Bunker Hill Community College to prep for a college or a career.
"Not only are we here to graduate them, but to transition them to the post-high school world, whether it be college, a job, or trade school," said Tsonas. Some students also enlist in the military, though fewer do now than used to, according to Tsonas.
Thanksgiving, though, is a time to focus more on the immediate things, such as making it through high school, eating good food, and spending time with family. All the staff bring a dish to the Thanksgiving event, to share with everyone there.
"It's very familial," said Tsonas.