Back in the school year 2000-01, science teacher Sue Reynolds launched the Lighthouse Kids, a community service group made up of seventh graders students at the North Hampton School on New Hampshire’s seacoast. The goal of the project was to raise funds for the restoration of the endangered White Island (Isles of Shoals) Lighthouse —New Hampshire’s only offshore lighthouse. In 2003, the Lighthouse Kids became a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation.
The 58-foot brick tower on White Island was in increasingly rough shape, with more bricks falling off its exterior with each harsh winter. This magazine proclaimed the 1859 tower the “most endangered lighthouse in New England.” Each year, the Lighthouse Kids have come up with creative ways of raising awareness and funds.
The efforts of the Lighthouse Kids paid off with the restoration of the lighthouse in the late summer of 2005, proving, as Sue Reynolds said, just how much kids can get done when they set their minds to it. But with the former keeper’s house and other structures on the island still in need of restoration, the 2005-06 edition of the Lighthouse Kids didn’t rest on their laurels.
Last October saw the culmination
of a project called “Lighthouse
Lobstars.” Giant 4 1/2-foot fiberglass lobsters, decorated by local artists, were displayed last summer at
locations from Newburyport,
Massachusetts, to Ogunquit, Maine. The “lobstars” were auctioned at
a special event
raising $88,000 for the Lighthouse Kids.
All told, including a grant from the 1772 Foundation, the Lighthouse Kids raised a grand total of about $115,000 during the school
year 2005-06. Grant writer Jen King has
played a vital role in the fundraising efforts for
A detailed model of the White Island Light Station, created by Don Perkins of Pocasset, Massachusetts, was also auctioned at the October event. The high bidder was the chair of the North Hampton school board, Kim Kisner. She donated the model back to the Lighthouse Kids, and it’s now on display just inside the front door at the North Hampton School, where all visitors can see it.
At this writing in May, the Kids have been staying in contact with Tom Mansfield, an architect for the state of New Hampshire.
Mansfield has been working with Rob Kenney, supervisor of the work on the lighthouse tower last year, to plan the restoration of the keeper’s house, generator building, and covered walkway on the island. There’s also been discussion of re-establishing a boat landing on the island.
The Lighthouse Kids will be undergoing a major transition with the retirement of their guiding force, Sue Reynolds, after 38 years of teaching at the North Hampton School. Stepping in will be Eric Whitney, a seventh grade language arts teacher. Whitney worked with the Kids this past year as they wrote letters to area businesses and organizations.
At an American Lighthouse Foundation dinner, Sue Reynolds was awarded the Len Hadley Volunteerism Award for her six years of providing leadership and inspiration for a total of about 300 Lighthouse Kids. Reynolds, who also runs a tour boat business from Rye, New Hampshire, will stay involved with the project. In the past six years, she’s taken many groups of Lighthouse Kids to White Island in her boat Uncle Oscar, making the effort much more tangible and real for them.
You can learn more about the Lighthouse Kids — and donate to their cause — by visiting their website at www.lighthousekids.org.
This story appeared in the
July 2006 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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