Regular readers of Lighthouse Digest need no introduction to the “Lighthouse Kids.” But for the uninitiated, the Kids are a group of seventh graders at the North Hampton School on New Hampshire’s seacoast. They are devoted to the cause of restoring the state’s only offshore lighthouse - Isles of Shoals Light, also known as White Island Light. The 1859 brick tower is on the southernmost of the Isles of Shoals, a cluster of rocky islands several miles offshore, and has been owned by the State of New Hampshire since 1993. It has major cracks in its outer surface, and the damage is increasing with each icy winter and each storm that batters the island, which is exposed to the open Atlantic.
This is the third year of existence for the Lighthouse Kids. Some of last year’s seventh graders are helping out, acting as mentors for the new group. About 14 of this year’s seventh grade class have gotten deeply involved. The Kids have raised about $2600 so far through various fundraising methods, including selling T-shirts.
Some of the Lighthouse Kids have visited “their” lighthouse twice this year already, making the trip on Sue Reynolds’ vessel Uncle Oscar. On an October trip, a photographer took photos for an upcoming feature in Yankee that will feature the Kids along with other maritime-related preservation groups. Each time they visit the island the Kids measure the cracks in the lighthouse, and their figures show that that the problem is growing steadily worse.
The State has publicly stated that they feel they are not responsible for repairs to the lighthouse. An October article in the Portsmouth Herald reported that Richard McLeod, Director of New Hampshire Parks and Recreation, has asked the state’s Attorney General to weigh in on the matter. Senior Chief Tom Dutton, Officer in Charge of the Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team that services the light, says that the Coast Guard definitely is no longer in charge of the tower’s upkeep. To most observers, it seems clear that the State accepted the responsibility for the care of the station’s buildings, including the lighthouse, in 1993.
But the Lighthouse Kids do have a champion in the state government. State Representative Rogers Johnson has filed a legislative service request, a precursor to a bill, asking for $250,000 to restore the lighthouse. Representative Johnson says he plans to help the students prepare to testify on behalf of the bill in Concord, the state’s capital, in 2003. The Kids have been getting plenty of practice, as they’ve prepared a Powerpoint presentation that’s being given to local groups and businesses. They’re also writing letters to corporations to solicit funds.
At the recent International Lighthouse Conference held by the American Lighthouse Foundation and the City of New Bedford (MA), the Lighthouse Kids received an award from Admiral Vivien Crea of the Coast Guard. It was also officially announced that they are now the first kids’ chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, and the Kids serenaded the conference-goers with a song, “We Are the Keepers of Tomorrow.”
Colin Gagnon, technology manager for the Lighthouse Kids, said, “We raised plenty of awareness at this conference.” He added, “We’ve been going to a lot of groups, talking to them about what we need help with. Our newest project is to pass a bill to make a lighthouse license plate in New Hampshire. It would help everybody in the community”
The Kids all have their reasons for being a part of the effort. Marshall Mason says, “The reason I joined was because I knew the Coast Guard has maintained the light for many long, cold years. And it’s also worth saving because from the seacoast it’s cool and amazing to look at.” Ashley Harvey says working on the project “has been the greatest time of my life. We are on the Doomsday List so we are working harder than ever.” Erin Albiero adds, “ I think that this has been a great experience for me — just to think that I am helping to save a lighthouse that is at the top of the Doomsday List!”
This story appeared in the
January 2003 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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