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Fun and fundraising go hand in hand at Baker River Regatta

Danielle, Lutra, Corva and Heron Hannon waved to those on shore as they headed out for the Baker River Regatta last weekend, which helped raise money for Mountain Village Charter School. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 09, 2018
PLYMOUTH – Jamie Hannon's suggestion to hold a boat regatta on the Baker River turned out to be a fun and environmentally friendly fundraising idea for Mountain Village Charter School last Saturday morning.

Hannon is the president of the Board of Trustees for the school, and said he remembers a time when there was a regatta on the river in Wentworth.

"There hasn't been a race here in almost 40 years though and this seemed like a great opportunity for us to bring that back. I'd love to see more paddling here on the river," Hannon said.

A total of 57 canoes, kayaks and paddleboards registered for the race in a wide array of categories. Beginning with novice paddlers, groups headed out one at a time from the launch site just below Millennium Bridge. From there they paddled the waters of the Baker River all the way to the junction of the Pemigewasset River where they eventually disembarked 4.75 miles later at the amphitheater on Green Street.

Costumes were encouraged and many were happy to oblige. Tiny fairy princesses rode along with their parents, some paddlers donned crazy hats and a few had a patriotic theme. There was even a costumed "beaver" aboard one boat and Nick Boccia, a brave paddleboarder from Plymouth State University, arrived wearing an "Ariel" mermaid costume for his adventure.

River clean up was also encouraged and as each boat left they were armed with garbage bags to collect any litter they spotted along the way.

"I had about five teams sign up for this today just to do the river cleanup, which was great," one of the volunteers reported.

There was even an award handed out at the end of the day for the boat that brought back the most trash. Other awards presented at the conclusion of the race included groups or individuals with the best time in each division and, of course, there were also awards for the best costumes.

Katy Gautsch is the Head of School for Mountain Village Charter School and said Hannon's idea for a boat regatta really fit the school's mission in promoting environmental learning.

"Each year, we have one big fundraiser and this one is amazing. It's unique and it really captures who we are," said Gautsch. "Another nice feature is, it brings the whole community together."

Besides participants from the school, there were students from PSU, local residents and a team from Mountain Valley Treatment Center. Also supporting them in the first ever Baker River Regatta was the Baker River Watershed Association.

Mountain Village Charter School is a nature-based Montessori learning environment that strives to meet the needs of the whole child. Board members said charter schools have free enrollment open to all and there are currently 70 children enrolled at the school from 17 different communities. Fundraising activities, like this year's regatta, are important to their operations however because the state provides charter schools with only 38-percent of the funding per student as public schools. For more information on Mountain Village Charter School, their educational programs, summer camp opportunities and more, please visit them online at www.mountainvillagecharterschool.org.

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