VINALHAVEN—This past June, the nine graduating students at Vinalhaven School, like so many seniors across the country, had their graduation ceremonies curtailed. While they were lucky enough to hold a commencement ceremony due to the class’s small size, they weren’t able to do a grand march or a lobster boat parade afterward, for it would have attracted too many onlookers gathering at the shore.
Instead, the class came up with the idea of putting a message in a bottle. All nine students wrote or drew a special message and tucked it into the bottle. Then, they boarded lobster boats and rafted up in the middle of the sea. A drone camera caught the amazing photo from overhead.
“Over the VHF, we read out loud a number of good things about each senior and well wishes,” said Bryan Feezor, the Assistant Principal at Vinalhaven School.
When the lobster boats all went their separate ways, that’s when the bottle was tossed into the ocean.
Only, it didn’t get far—it washed up on nearby North Haven.
According to Feezer, a merchant marine on the island told him he was shipping out pretty soon and could take the bottle with him and throw it overboard in the midst of the Atlantic. And that’s what he did.
At this point in the story, no one ever expects to hear about the bottle’s whereabouts again. Most of them end up in gigantic floating garbage patches on the ocean. The recovery rate for such a bottle is less than three percent, according to an article in The American Surveyor.
Five months passed by. A couple in Grand Isle, Louisiana, was walking the beach in October, when they stumbled upon the bottle and opened it.
The Louisiana couple spread the news to other friends via Facebook. To back the story up slightly, Vinalhaven School hired a couple from Iowa to help the school create and design a remote learning team for the students. This couple had friends whose family lives in Grand Isle, Louisiana. In a five-degrees-of-separation twist of events, when the Iowa couple received the news, they knew exactly where the bottle had come from.
As Feezer recalled, “Someone who was friends with this Iowa couple said to them on Facebook, “Hey my grandparents just found this bottle, check this out. We assume that the storms that have battered the Gulf helped get the bottle to wash up there and can't believe the coincidence that the people that found it had contacts with our remote team.”
Feezer said the students were thrilled to learn how far the bottle traveled (approximately 2,000 nautical miles) and that it had been found.
“As the seniors last year did not get to have the graduation that has been part of our island tradition for a long time, this story brought some extra excitement to them and gave them some fond memories of their last days of high school,” said Feezer.
Learn more about Vinalhaven School through their Facebook page.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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