By Eari Nakano ’20, Associate Editor, The Log
This summer, the entire Tabor community was assigned an all-school read: Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Slade, which tells the tragic story of the 33 mariners on the container ship El Faro, which sunk on October 1, 2015, off the coast of the Bahamas in Hurricane Joaquin. This story hits close to home for the Tabor community, not only because we are the school by the sea, but because one of the mariners on the ship was a Tabor Alumnus: Jeff Mathias ’92, former proctor of the Hitchcock dorm and schooner crew member. The community read committee was struck by the versatility of this reading and was excited to introduce a text to the community that would connect with the work of so many departments and initiatives across campus. Themes of leadership, difficult conversations, and teamwork appear throughout Into the Raging Sea, making it an ideal text to explore in this community which values citizenship, achievement, and care for others.
Rachel Slade, the book’s author, will spend a week at Tabor as our 2019 Visiting Author starting October 14. She will talk about her novel and about the writing process in both large and small group settings.
Slade began her journalism career as a design editor for Boston Magazine. In 2016, she began writing a narrative for YankeeMagazine regarding the sinking of El Faro, which then turned into her longer work, the book Into the Raging Sea.
Recently retired English teacher Mark Howland, who organized her visit to Tabor, calls the book “exhaustively-researched and beautifully-written and tragic.” After just one conversation with Rachel Slade, he discovered why she was so invested in this particular story. “She possesses tremendous passion and equal humanity. As a journalist, she saw a story and wondered how such a disaster could have happened. She wanted to do whatever she could to help prevent its happening again. So, she turned her life over to finding out what happened aboard the El Faro and how the shipping industry had gotten to that point. She contacted surviving family members, one of whom is Jen Mathias, wife of Jeff Mathias '92.”
To honor the ship’s crew, some members of the Tabor community will be telling the story of El Faro through the arts. The co-curricular arts program will be attempting to install a scale of the El Faro onto the Tabor campus to portray the size of the 790-foot ship. Visual arts faculty member Ms. Smith adds, “I want the students at Tabor to visualize and feel the scale of the ship and how massive it was. I also want to potentially create portraits of some of the members of the crew. Maybe highlight Jeff Mathias and show how he was one of us.” The dance team will be performing a piece in the fall recital that embodies the reality of the tragedy. Dance coach Mrs. Williams says, “While I want to depict the tragedy, I want to put a positive spin on the ending. Where the people on the ship come together and save themselves.” They will be performing to the song “You Will Be Found” from the Dear Evan Hansen musical.
During her week-long visit to Tabor, teachers across the curriculum will be taking their students to hear her talk about her book, and students will participate in smaller group discussions throughout the week. She will also be delivering a chapel speech on Monday, October 14 and an evening reading and book signing on October 17 at 7:30 PM in Hoyt Hall which is open to the public. We hope the community will join us in learning more about author Rachel Slade and her work, Into the Raging Sea.