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Arrrrr! Winners named in Pirates contest

Arrrrr! Winners named in Pirates contest

Students and advisers from 14 schools gathered to tour the Denver Museum and Nature and Scienes’s latest exhibit, “Real Pirates,” on Saturday, March 12.

Check out a slide show of photos from the event at http://www.flickr.com/photos/60626494@N07/sets/72157626272981174/

Students had to email their contests entries – news writing, review writing, or photojournalism – within five days of the event. You can check out the top entries below.

Heather Hope, public relations manager for the museum and a former high school journalist at Littleton HS, arranged the exclusive tour, and also provided breakfast and a press conference for the nearly 80 in attendance. The exhibit runs through Aug. 21, 2011.

This is the second year for CHSPA to partner with the DMNS in an event for high school journalists, and follows last spring’s Body Works exhibit. Everyone involved expressed the desire to continue this relationship.

First Place in the “Real Pirates” News Story Contest
Real Pirates commandeers Denver
Sam Katzman, Conifer HS / Sportsaholic7775@aol.com

Pirates have captured the attention of visitors at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Reaching its sixth location touring the United States, the traveling exhibit Real Pirates arrived in Denver in March and will remain until August.

Artifacts from the sunken slave and pirate ship the Whyda are on display in the Phipps Special Events Gallery in the museum. Setting the Whyda apart from other pirate ships of its time, it is the only pirate gally to be recovered in U.S. waters.

Unlike dramatized movies depicting fictional lives of scurvy sea dogs, this exhibit gives museum goers a different insight on piracy in the 1700s.

According to DMNS anthropologist Mark Levine, “We’re trying to get the real picture of pirates to the public instead of the fake Hollywood productions.”

After being commissioned in London as a slave ship participating in the Atlantic triangle trade, Captain Sam Bellamy commandeered the Whyda, collecting treasure and pirating from Cuba up the American East coast till it sank in a violent nor’easter off the coast of Cape Cod, MA  in 1717.

Underwater explorer Barry Clifford and his team of researchers struggled for years to find any evidence of the ship despite tales he heard of its definite existence. Finally in 1984 the ship was recovered by Clifford; however, salvaging the concreted remnants became the difficult task.

Now with over 200 objects from the wreck preserved, National Geographic has partnered with DMNS exhibit coordinators to host this exhibit. “Real Pirates allows you to learn from the objects instead of other sources,” said Jennifer Moss Logan, educator/coordinator for nature and culture gallery programs.

“The exhibit tells the story of the Whyda ship from its origins in London to discovery on the ocean floor,” she said.

As the exhibit snakes through the gallery, the timeline of the ship’s history progresses from early slave day antiques being presented near the entrance and information on the wreck’s recovery placed at the exit.

Real Pirates was designed as an especially interactive exhibition to satisfy all age groups. Children can create their own pirate hats, embark on a treasure hunt and have a conversation with a professionally trained historical actor. According to Logan, “A lot of our younger and even older audiences come dressed as pirates. This is a great family friendly exhibit because it’s more than just artifacts in protective cases.”

Event organizers took extra care in details to ensure visitors are immersed in the pirate experience for the duration of their time in the gallery. Never before used “intricate lighting and sound systems” simulate the fateful storm and guests must board a replica Whyda ship to proceed through the exhibit, said Levine.

Though the center of the attraction, most agree, is the original bell which is inscribed “The Whyda Gally 1716,” other items include gold, dining ware and the leg bone of the ship’s youngest crew man, John King.

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has obtained large scale exhibitions in the past, but they have a high amount of pride in the work put into Real Pirates.  According to public relations manager Heather Hope, “Our team is very well known within the industry for getting great exhibits and taking them up a notch.”

It’s their hope visitors will notice the extra effort and grasp the concept those who have contributed to the exhibit intend to convey. “It’s not what you find; it’s what you find out,” said Clifford.

First Place in the “Real Pirates” Review Writing Contest

Pirates: Review
Tyler Blair, Smoky Hill High School

The pirates have invaded Denver! From March 4 to August 21, “Real Pirates: the Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship” will be on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS). The exhibit, courtesy of National Geographic, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions, is a must-see for fans of Pirates, and for people who need something to do on a boring day.

The exhibit tells the story of Sam Bellamy, a man who became a pirate so he could earn money to marry his beloved Maria Hallett. Before he could return to her, however, after making his fortune as a pirate, he died when a storm struck the ship and caused it to sink.

To be honest, I’m not a major museum fan, and I don’t exactly have the greatest opinion of pirates in general. As I walked into the museum, images of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and other tacky pirate cliches began to enter my mind, leaving an unfriendly feeling in my stomach.

But all those feelings disappeared when I entered the exhibit.

As I entered, the bell of the Whydah that rang repeatedly as the ship was sinking during a storm, sat hauntingly in a foggy case of water. Immediately, I was sucked into the world of Sam Bellamy and the world of “The Golden Age of Piracy.”

Making my way through the exhibit, I repeatedly stopped as interesting artifact after artifact caught my attention, and drew me toward them. Images of the treacherous Middle Passage slave route, and gleaming troves of treasure left me heartbroken and excited at the same time.

And then there was the ship, which was quite possibly the coolest part of the tour.

In the middle of the exhibit sits a life-sized model of the Whydah ship. I entered onto the ship’s deck, and then made my way underneath as the wax figure pirates with voice overs narrated my journey, giving me a taste of what they experienced.

As I left, I felt a need to turn around and experience it just once more. I didn’t want to leave! I wanted to go back inside and learn more about Sam Bellamy and his crew of beloved pirates.

The tragic story of the Whydah, while more than 300 years old, delivered an emotional punch to the patrons of the exhibit. “Real Pirates: the Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship,” was truly an amazing experience, and I highly recommend it for people of any age. Transport yourself back to the “Golden Age of Piracy,” and let your inner scallywag out!

Top entries in the “Real Pirates” Photojournalism Contest

First Place - TC Scaggiari, Englewood HS


Second Place – Alex Sorrell, Smoky Hill HS

Third Place – Emily Ward, Palmer Ridge HS

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