Reporter editorial: Message for the world

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | Connor and his teacher, Jack Reardon.

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | Connor Corbett-Rice and his teacher, Jack Reardon.

What started as a telephone call from a Shelter Island teacher about what he thought “might be a story” for the Reporter has travelled far beyond the Island’s shores.

The front page feature story by staff reporter Julie Lane (see “Time in a bottle,” March 20) has taken wing, with coverage picked up from us by Newsday, all the major TV networks plus local TV, a big New York City daily and media outlets as far afield as the London Daily Mail.

When teacher Jack Reardon called the newsroom to report that a message written three years ago, tucked into a bottle by student Connor Corbett-Rice and tossed into the water off Reel Point had been scooped up from a beach in the Bahamas, we knew telling the tale was a no-brainer. But we never imagined the story would generate so much interest from so many different places. In fact, if you Google “message in a bottle, Shelter Island,” you’ll have to do a lot of scrolling before you find our story, which was the first and still the best. (You’d never know Julie’s story was the spark if you read the other accounts. With the exception of the Daily Mail, which links to our original story. Thanks, Fleet Street.)

“It put us on the map,” School Superintendent Michael Hynes said.

All good things have emerged from the Reporter’s story of Connor’s and Mr. Reardon’s message in a bottle. Mr. Reardon got an email from Andrew Gracie, who found the bottle on the Bahamas beach, praising his teaching methods. It’s worth repeating Mr. Gracie’s elegant message: “In today’s world of instant communication, emails, Short Message Service and Facebook, it’s great to hear that some of our teachers are still able to successfully stimulate our youth with some old-fashioned classroom experiments that will further stimulate them to seek answers to time-honored questions. We will always need navigators, explorers, meteorologists, oceanographers and the like and it is this type of simple stimulation that our teachers can achieve with today’s youth.”

Connor, a quiet young man, “walks a little taller” in the school’s corridors since his story has gone international, Dr. Hynes said.

And because of the example of Connor’s curiosity, a dedicated teacher and a simple lesson, we all walk a little taller with him.