Video: Letting their light shine

By Dawn Fratangelo Correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/16/2006 7:32:30 PM ET 2006-06-16T23:32:30

Ride along with boat captain Sue Reynolds and you'll learn a thing or two.

"I love the New Hampshire seacoast, I truly do," she says.

Coastal New Hampshire is her classroom. A teacher of 40 years, she never tires of field trips like a recent one to Star Island with her students from North Hampton School.

Sue understands childhood curiosity. It's what called her to a nearby lighthouse years ago.

"I always looked out at the lighthouse, because I was at the beach every day all summer as a kid and I never could get there," she says.

The White Island lighthouse — first built in the early 1800s — is now the state's only working lighthouse. When it was falling into disrepair, Sue came up with a civics lesson. Her students could raise money to save it. 

"It's part of New Hampshire history and it's the only lighthouse that we have," says student Karen Donohoe. "And I think it's really cool that we, we can do that. We can fix it."

The first class raised $400.

"I thought that maybe we could do $5,000 [or] $10,000, and that would get somebody else doing something, but little did I know that it's turned into something else."

Over six years, it has turned into an impressive group known as the Lighthouse Kids. The project is more than just kids stuff, especially when you consider how much money these seventh-graders have raised: $300,000 and counting.

The money has paid for repairs to the tower and part of the keeper's cottage.

Each year a new class comes through. But they share one motto, "Once a lighthouse kid, always a lighthouse kid."

And next year they'll have a new teacher. Sue Reynolds is retiring. But she will stay connected to the lighthouse. It remains what it has always been — and is now to her students — a beacon.

"There's still the wonder about it and the desire, now, the desire to keep it there," she says.

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