BURIEN, Wash. — On Tuesday, Maritime High School students took canoes they had spent three months designing and building out on Puget Sound and christened them with water from the Duwamish River.
Maritime High School is a collaboration between the Port of Seattle, Highline Public Schools, the Northwest Maritime Center and the Duwamish River Community Coalition.
The project-based learning school provides incoming ninth and 10th grade students with skills to launch a career in the maritime industry or to continue studying at a two- or four-year college.
Principal Tremain Holloway said it’s important to the school that students understand the significance of the boat-building project.
“We know that canoes are very symbolic to the indigenous people, and we want to be mindful about our Native heritage community,” Holloway said.
Maritime High School students spend two days a week out on the water on their floating classroom, the “Admiral Jack” vessel. Students learn how to captain a boat, chart waterways, participate in waterway restoration, meet with maritime industry leaders, build underwater robots, raise fish and much more.
“If you would have told me a year ago when we were creating this that we were gonna create a school where kids actually got chance to go out on the water, got a chance to create and build canoes and vessels, combining that with internship opportunities in the future and also mentorship opportunities in the future, I probably would have laughed, right, but here we are,” Holloway said.
Maritime High School Program Director Stephanie Burns said another unique feature is that new students get to shape and influence the direction of the school.
“I’ve been in education for over 25 years and started out as a classroom teacher. I realized that the classrooms I loved were on the tops of mountains or the decks of boats, and so much of my career has been in settings outside of a traditional classroom,” Burns said. “If someone asked me to design a dream school, I think it would be Maritime High School.”
The inaugural student body is just over 40 students. Maritime High School is now accepting applications for the fall with open enrollment for students across the region.