Thursday, January 22, 2009

Setting Sail for College aboard an 18th-Century Schooner

Quill and Compass Program Launched

Chestertown, MD — A circa-1768 Royal Navy schooner is an unusual place to begin one's first year of college. But for Kevin Lynch and Charles Weisenberger, members of the class of 2012, the first lessons learned at Washington College were how to raise sails, coil ropes, and man the helm. Upon their arrival on campus in August 2008, they embarked on a three-day sailing adventure aboard the Schooner Sultana, a faithful recreation of a British revenue cutter that patrolled American waters before the Revolution. In addition to their new nautical skills, the students learned about Chesapeake history, maritime lore, and the natural environment of the Bay.

Lynch and Weisenberger are the inaugural recipients of the Quill & Compass Scholarships, a new program under the auspices of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. Awarded to outstanding students interested in exploring history and American studies here at one of the most historic colleges in the nation, the scholarships not only help pay recipients' tuition, but also open doors to some extraordinary adventures.

The Quill & Compass name symbolizes a distinctive approach to studying the past. The quill pen represents Washington College's excellence in teaching writing, and the Starr Center's dedication to the literary craft of history. The compass represents the many opportunities for students here to explore the world beyond the college gates—especially the surrounding Chesapeake region, one of America's richest historic areas.

The scholarships are funded by the Colonial Dames of America, Chapter 1; a recent $2.5 million challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities; Starr Center board member Thomas Stanley; and other supporters. Also participating are Washington College's Office of Admissions and Sultana Projects, Inc., which organized the sail. The Quill & Compass Program currently offers $6,000 scholarships ($1,500 annually for four years) and opportunities to take part in activities such as the Sultana trip, which was also open to other members of the class of 2012.

The grants will be awarded to two members of each year's incoming freshman class. In 2008, no fewer than 28 high-school seniors applied for the two available spots. "The caliber of applications this first year was astonishing," said Starr Center Associate Director Jill Ogline Titus, who chairs the selection committee. "We hope that further gifts will allow us to increase both the number and amount of the scholarships."

A native of Audubon, NJ, Kevin Lynch was the most enthusiastic student his history teacher at Audubon High had ever taught. He has continued that passion here. "Living in an area of such historical importance has significantly enhanced my interest in studying history," he says. "The combination of accomplished instructors, programs and activities at the Starr Center, and the history of the surrounding environment has made studying at Washington College an incredibly enjoyable experience that I doubt I would have had anywhere else."

Charles Weisenberger came to Chestertown from Nazareth, PA. He is a graduate of Nazareth High School, and participated in a prestigious summer leadership program at Columbia University. "The financial aspect of the Quill & Compass award is a nice benefit," he says. "But I appreciate more the opportunities it has already opened up for me as a first-year student—such as living aboard an 18th-century schooner, traveling along the escape routes of Harriet Tubman, and canoeing on a creek explored by Captain John Smith."

More information on the 2009 scholarships is available from the Starr Center or from Kevin Coveney, Vice President for Admissions and Enrollment Management (800-422-1782, ext. 7700;

About the C.V. Starr Center

The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores our nation's history—and particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown's colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America's democratic experiment. For more information on the Center, visit

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