The Polish Substation of the Weather Stations project is situated at the far end of the Hel Peninsula on the coast of the Baltic Sea. The Substation’s team are students of the Zespół Szkół Ogólnokształcących im. Obrońców Helu (General Education School Complex in Hel).
Participants of the project go to school at one of Poland’s most frequented summer resorts. In the town of Hel there are many tourist attractions, such as a cycling route that runs all the way through the Hel Peninsula, lovely beaches, an observatory pier from which one can view the flora of the dunes, remnants of the bunkers and casemates of the Hel Fortified Area, the Seal Sanctuary, where Poland’s population of the grey seal is being restored, run by the Hel Marine Station of the University of Gdańsk, Hel’s Seaport, the beaches, the Museum of Fishery and many others.
In the summer, every day several thousand visitors want to experience Hel’s tourist attractions. Is it a blessing or a curse? Certainly obliterated during the summer holiday season is the charm of Hel, a place which at other times invites peaceful recreation.
The participants of the project say: “Thanks to the Weather Stations project, in which we have been involved for more than a year now, we are getting to know more and more about our peninsula. Early in March we watched birds near the seaport and the peninsula’s tip. With Mikołaj, an ornithologist from the Marine Station, we went on an excursion equipped with binoculars. We learnt about the lives of cormorants, mallards and long-tailed ducks, and the names of the several species of gull living in the seaport: the herring gull, the black-headed gull, the Caspian gull, and the common gull. Thanks to the trip we now know that long-tailed ducks frequently fall victim to what is known as bycatch, trapped in the nets cast for fish. We were also fortunate to encounter rare specimens: robin and snow bunting.”
And what is the everyday life of the school like? Throughout the school year there are many events, such as school fairs, drama productions, visits from interesting people, and more. The students develop athletically and artistically. They have staged several times the play The Story of the Blue Planet, whose author, Andri Magnason, visited the nearby city of Gdańsk.
The students staged a guest performance of the play for children at Gdański Archipelag Kultury.
Beside Weather Stations there are also other educational projects going on at school, e.g. meetings with the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre. Whenever possible, there are excursions for students, from which they return to Hel inspired.
The school’s involvement in the project brings to Hel writers also engaged in Weather Stations. They run workshops for the youth and pose questions about the future of our planet. Recently Hel was visited by Xiaolu Guo from London.