The entire Chebeague Island School, kindergarten through fifth grade, recently opened the visiting season at Admiral Robert E. Peary’s Eagle Island in Casco Bay. Some of the Chebeague students had heard family stories handed down from their grandfathers and great-grandfathers who remembered the days when Peary lived on Eagle Island and kept his sled dogs on neighboring Flagg Island. It was said that “you could hear their barking all the way to Chebeague.”

Two fathers of Chebeague school children, Chris Rich and Stephen Johnson, donated their time and lobster boats so that everyone at the school could go on this expedition. Rich and Johnson, both lobstermen, have a wealth of knowledge about the fishing grounds of the bay and made a point of showing the students special nesting grounds and seal rocks on the way to and from Eagle.

Carly Knight, the Island Institute Fellow at the Chebeague Island Historical Society, joined the outing along with the school’s teachers, Sue Beaule, Kristin Rohrbach, Marty Trower, Tammy Donovan and Lee Robinson. Knight, a Bowdoin graduate, had researched Peary’s career and had already spent time herself in the Artic.

As the students went from room to room in the house, they drilled Ranger Jennie Dorrington with questions about Peary’s expeditions, the finds he brought back, and how his children, especially the “Snow Baby,” lived on Eagle Island and in the Arctic. But it was the rugged beaches, so like their own but even more plentiful, that captured their attention.

Perhaps among them were some dreaming the same dreams of discovery that took a small Portland boy all the way to the North Pole and back to Eagle Island.