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New London magnet school student wins MacCluggage scholarship

New London — Arielle Frommer, a senior at the Marine Science Magnet High School, has won the 2021 Reid MacCluggage Black Maritime History Scholarship Competition, with her original entry, "Ballad of the Dragon Tree: A Tale of Cape Verdean Glory."

Frommer will receive a $1,000 scholarship award, which is sponsored by the New London Maritime Society. This year's MacCluggage Scholarship entries were judged by MacCluggage, the former editor and publisher of The Day whose gift established the competition 20 years ago.

"I selected Ms. Frommer’s ballad for its creative use of historical fact, colorful writing and lively story-telling. The story, the poetry, the rhythm and beat all creatively celebrate the people of Cape Verde, their 'robust sailors . . . (and) captains and whalers,' and the spiky native Dragon tree," MacCluggage said. "My wife, Linda, and I were singing it around the condo. I hope that it will be performed at the Custom House once the pandemic has ended."

The ballad is in the form of a forecastle shanty, which were sung during times of lull in a sailor’s work day. The story captures the arc of Cape Verde from colonization by the Portuguese, through the dark history of the slave trade, to what the islands are today — a prosperous port of call and independent representative democracy, according to a news release from the maritime society.

“I was inspired by the perseverance and bravery of the people of Cape Verde,” Frommer wrote. “I titled this poem 'Ballad of the Dragon Tree: A Tale of Cape Verdean Glory' as a reference to the island’s native tree, which is also a national symbol of Cape Verdean resilience.”

She performs the ballad at youtu.be/OkoEQlIxGlo.

The Reid MacCluggage Black Maritime History Award was established in 2001 to foster an awareness of the experience of African Americans in the context of maritime history.

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