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Alpena High School students board Lady Michigan for Shipwreck Alley Tour

ALPENA, Mich. — To any high school student, it has not been an easy year. But today, on the second-to-last day of school, Alpena High School’s “Science in the Sanctuary” students had their very first field trip- a glass-bottomed boat tour of Shipwreck Alley.

After a year of on-and-off pauses and remote learning, spending a bright June day on the water was refreshing to say the least.

“It’s a lot of fun, it’s really exciting because it’s the end of the year,” said student Gracie Tulgestka.  “It’s crazy because it’s the end of the year,” said Lillian Wood. “It’s fun to get out and not be in school.”

One of the class’s teachers, John Caplis, said this was the first hands-on experience his students got this year, and even though school is almost out, he’s happy they got on the water.

“It just makes it a more interactive day for them,” Caplis said.

While the students study the marine sanctuary throughout the year, they said getting to take a look at what’s underneath the surface from a glass-bottomed boat is a much better way to learn.

“It’s more interactive,” said Tulgestka. “It’s a lot more interesting when you can actually see what you’re learning about.”

“It’s a lot of fun to be able to see the things,” said Wood. “It feels more realistic and it’s more engaging.”

Normally, a lot of the science in the sanctuary course is hands-on learning, but the pandemic limited what the school could offer students this year. A regular school year would consist of building ROV’s and learning how to scuba dive; without that, being able to get the kids on the water meant a lot.

“This has been a really tough school year,” Caplis told WBKB. “I feel bad for the kids, they’ve missed out on many of the things that make school a lot fun. I didn’t think we would be able to a field trip. It’s so great to get out here, get the kids on the water and enjoy time in the sanctuary.”