Teen Apprentice Commencement Recognizes Twelve

(NEW BEDFORD, Mass.) – The New Bedford Whaling Museum recently marked the end of the first full academic year of its Teen Apprentice Program with commencement exercises recognizing twelve New Bedford high school students. The ceremony took place in the Jacobs Family Gallery on May 24 with the students’ families, educators, friends and Museum staff in attendance.

Completing the program were John Antunes, Tori Arsenault, Melanie DeJesus, Daniel Golda, Rico Hernandez, Megan Perez, Peightyn Riley, Amber Rosa, Mark Ste. Rose, Joshua Vargas, Carlos Velazquez, and Ryan Wotton.

Several speakers acknowledged the work accomplished by the apprentices during the past year. Robert Rocha, Science Programs Manager, who also directs the Apprentice Program, provided an overview of the program and the apprentices.

New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang spoke to the teens about the great opportunity inherent in the program, calling on them to get to know all of the museums in the city and serve as community ambassadors.

Museum President James Russell highlighted some of the key accomplishments and fun moments, and acknowledged the staff and many funders that have made the program possible.

New Bedford Ward 2 City Councilor Steve Martins presented citations from the New Bedford City Council to the apprentices and reminded them not to let their age get in the way of chasing their dreams. He also encouraged them to return to New Bedford after their post-high school education is complete, so they can be part of the city’s growth.

Director of Education, Sara Meirowitz, presented $200 book scholarships to the three seniors who have been accepted to college, with the understanding that the other three seniors will receive the same once their college acceptance letters arrive. Melanie DeJesus was recognized for perfect attendance. With the presentation of certificates completed, a reception hosted by the Museum’s education department was given in honor of the apprentices and their families.

Finally, Mr. Rocha noted that the Class of 2011 would not be leaving the Museum just yet, as they will return for eight weeks this summer to continue their work.

The Museum is currently recruiting new students for next year’s Apprentice Program. Candidates must be juniors and seniors from New Bedford’s high schools with a proven interest in marine science. Students must be willing to work in a team, able to follow directions, work independently as needed, and have a curiosity that will enable them to participate in a variety of tasks and projects.  This is a paid apprenticeship program ($8/hr) that is geared for students receiving financial assistance for the school’s lunch program.

A program description and application form can be obtained by contacting Robert Rocha, Science Programs Manager (508) 717-6849 or rrocha@whalingmuseum.org

The Teen Apprentice Program is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement/Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations (ECHO), the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, The Howard Bayne Fund, The Women's Fund of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, and Bank of America.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of whales, whaling, and the cultural history of the region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown and is open daily. Wheelchair accessible. For a complete calendar of events, visit the Whaling Museum online at www.whalingmuseum.org. Join the Museum’s online community at flickr.com www.flickr.com/photos/nbwm, facebook.com http://www.facebook.com/whalingmuseum, Twitter www.twitter.com/whalingmuseum, and blog at www.whalingmuseumblog.org.

For more information, contact:
Robert C. Rocha, Jr.
Science Programs Manager
(508) 997-0046, ext. 149