Student Spotlight

Forman Students Showcase Work at Boat Show

July 27, 2022

Students from Forman School’s boatbuilding program demonstrated their skills at the 30th Annual WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, CT, on June 24th-26th. The show at the Mystic Seaport Museum, hosted in partnership with WoodenBoat Publications, displayed more than 100 traditional and classic wooden boats, including Forman’s newest cocktail racer. During the show, students Jonathan Bush ’25, Matthew Fisher ’24, Josh Lavallo ’23, John McPhee ’22, and Griffin Pettetier ’25 worked on their latest project: a solar-powered motor boat.

“The solar motor boat is called The Julie Forman,” Wendy Welshans P’24, Science Teacher and head of Forman’s boatbuilding program, says. “It was designed here by students interested in engineering, building the perfect family motor boat.” 

The parts to plank the boat were cut and put in the steam bath ahead of time and steam-bent right at the show. “It was really awesome,” Welshans says.

Students work on wooden boat

The students spent the entire weekend at the show, camping nearby overnight. Welshans says, despite long days and hot temperatures, the students were enthusiastic about the opportunity to share their work. 

“When we’re boat building, they communicate within themselves and create a hierarchy for who is doing what and who does what well because everyone has an affinity,” she adds. “Take that out of the boat shop and put them in the middle of a festival with thousands of people coming by, and you don’t know how well they are going to teach it. I knew they were going to do really well, and they did.”
Once a portion of the planking was laid, the students invited visitors to put a nail in and sign their names, creating a time capsule.

“The planking will be covered with canvas,” Welshans says. “In 50 years, when someone needs to replace the canvas, all those names from the 30th Annual WoodenBoat Show will pop up.” 

Many visitors and fellow boat builders at the show commended the students for a job well done. 

“It was incredible … [the students] worked so well together,” Welshans says. “You don’t realize how skilled they are until you see them out doing their craft.” 

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