High schools throughout New York City encourage students to raise their academic standards through hands-on, inquiry-based learning. Few, however, define “hands-on” as SCUBA diving in the Netherlands or restoring a self-sustaining oyster population to New York Harbor. Few, that is, other than the New York Harbor School, the only maritime-based public high school in New York City. In an effort to continue offering a stimulating maritime curriculum, the Harbor School will be hosting its first annual charity regatta on Thursday, October 6.
The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, which opened in 2003, focuses on engaging students in work in and around the water. Originally established in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the high school relocated to Governors Island, in the heart of New York Harbor, last year. “The new location’s close proximity to the water makes it an incredible place to run a maritime high school,” says Murray Fisher, Harbor School cofounder and New York Harbor Foundation President. “In the center of the Harbor you are reminded of the richness and relevance of a curriculum devoted to New York City's maritime experience.”
Courses at the high school include Marine Biology, Aquaculture, Vessel Operations, Ocean Engineering and Professional Diving. Students also participate in activities such as building historic replicas of New York Sloops, sailing through New York Harbor and working with the Hudson Riverkeeper to become health advocates.
To Fisher, a charity regatta seemed like a natural way to increase Harbor School support. Fisher says, “No one understands better than sailors that you cannot run a maritime high school if you don't have meaningful experiences on the water. But those experiences are expensive. Our goal is to find people who connect with our mission and can help make it work for our students.” All proceeds from the regatta will benefit the students of the New York Harbor School, specifically through college-preparatory programs, after-school and summer programs, and Career and Technical Education programs, many of which take place on the water.
The race, which encircles Governors Island, will have two separate fleets: four America’s Cup 12-Meters and 20 J/24s from the Manhattan Sailing Club. Teams will consist of either Harbor School students or visiting sailors, such as Olympic sailor and 2003 Yachtswoman of the Year Hannah Swett. Fans can watch the race from spectator boats in New York Harbor while listening to commentary from MSNBC’s Willie Geist.
Directly following the regatta, attendees will continue the celebration with an awards ceremony at the post-regatta bash at Water Taxi Beach. Tickets are still available for those interested in sailing or attending the cocktail bash. For $1,000, sailors can join a team of four aboard a J/24. Individuals or companies can also sponsor J/24 teams (for $5,000) or student teams (for $4,000).
With the help of passionate sailors, Fisher envisions the Harbor School becoming the premier public maritime high school in the region. In regards to the inaugural regatta, he expects it to be “a fun night for our guests and an event that people can start to look forward to every fall in New York City.”
For more on the Harbor School Regatta at Governors Island, click here.