Is This Any Way to Run A High School?


By Teresa Ippolito

 There are high school orientations and then there is the orientation that the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a New York City Public High School, provides for its incoming freshman.

 If you have been to Governors Island, and I strongly suggest you put it on your “to do” list, you probably have seen the school building and you may even have encountered some Harbor School students. Imagine taking a ferry to school every morning; that is just what these students do.  But there is more to Harbor School than an unusual commute.  

Students who attend New York Harbor School this school will use the harbor as a laboratory for their college prep studies.

 It is very clear, even during orientation, that New York Harbor inspires a unique schedule and environment.  A typical introduction to the school day includes a Morning Muster, Leadership 101, and Boat Building.  Their freshman year course selections can include Harbor Science, English, Civics and Economics, Geometry, Intro to New York Harbor and Swimming.  Did you catch that reference to “boatbuilding”?  Each of the one week orientation sessions managed to construct a small but harbor worthy wooden vessel!

 On a recent visit, I watched these New York City kids kayaking in the semi-enclosed boat basin.  Last year, a group of Harbor School students held an EPA audience spellbound as they described their work to restore the oyster population in New York Harbor.

If you think this sounds like a school that is truly committed to enabling young people to develop leadership and environmental stewardship skills, you have the right idea.

More information about the Harbor School can be found here.

Want to visit Governors Island? Go to

Hurry!  September 25th is the last day until May, 2012.