For someone who claims to be easily distracted, Amber Johnson has been very, very focused. For the past hour, Johnson, a student in the Belfast Community Opportunity Program in Education, has busied about a 14-foot long rowboat skeleton — painting glue onto wood, clamping pieces together and drilling holes through layers of plywood.

The 17-year-old is determined to get things right: A casual mistake with one thing, she has learned, can potentially set other things off.

Since mid-February, Johnson and a rotating roster of about 15 classmates have been constructing the Babson Island 14 rowboat from scratch. BCOPE, Belfast Area High School’s alternative education program, received the boat kit, as well as a boat model, as a donation from WoodenBoat Publications, a Brooklin company that publishes WoodenBoat Magazine and runs a school dedicated to the art of boat-building.

Jim Miller, president and general manager of WoodenBoat, recently visited Troy Howard Middle School, where BCOPE set up shop for its boat-building. He said he was impressed both with the progress of the boat and with the students.

“It’s just what I hoped for,” Miller said. “To involve kids from the beginning, to have them experience what it’s like to build something, to see something through to the end and to have an understanding of connecting the dots. I mean, you’re starting with a tree, with pieces of wood, and ending with a boat. It’s a wonderful process.”

For two days a week, the students have been working closely with Steven Garrand, an independent boat carpenter based in Belfast. In the midst of the sanding, the sawing and the drilling, students are garnering tangible knowledge about history, geometry and finance, among other things.

They are also learning about responsibility — to oneself and to an employer. That’s part of the point of the boat-building elective and the greater goal of BCOPE, said Director Gary Skigen. Any student can sign up for the boat-building class, said Skigen, but to stay in the class, they must demonstrate commitment and full participation.

“Through this elective, we want the students to have connection to marine history, as well as to jobs and careers,” he said. “But we also want to foster a learning experience that can feel rewarding and positive.”

Skigen said students at BCOPE are involved in the program because, for various reasons, they have not worked well in the traditional high school setting.

“The most exciting part of this,” said Skigen, “is watching the progress of the boat, and seeing the pleasure and pride kids are getting out of this. When they come out of this, my hope is that they will gain a tremendous sense of self-accomplishment and self-esteem.”

The boat is coming together at a steady pace, Skigen said, and he attributes this to the hard work of both teacher and students.

“We all have a great time,” said instructor Garrand. “And I have to say, these students are beyond my expectations in their aptitude. I think everyone here has a natural ability I wasn’t prepared for.”

Garrand said they are aiming to have the boat completely built by June 10. When they do finish, they will host a celebratory launch with students taking turns in the boat.

As for what color the boat will be, Garrand said he’ll leave that up to the kids.

“Tie-dyed has been bandied about, but I don’t know how we would pull that off,” he said. “We’d have to come up with a special process to do that.”

Perhaps it is a challenge the students would be up for.