Urban Assembly New York Harbor School’s new campus on Governors Island brings kids right to water
They’re ready to dive in.
A maritime-themed public high school named for New York Harbor will finally reach its shores next fall when the school opens its doors on Governors Island.
After spending six years landlocked in the heart of Brooklyn, the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School will get a permanent home five minutes from the water in a former Coast Guard hospital, making it the island’s first civilian tenant in centuries.
Its 432 students will be riding the waves on a daily basis, taking a 7-minute ferry ride between the island and the Battery Maritime Building in lower Manhattan.
“It’ll be cool,” said Kiana Horne, 15, a Harbor School sophomore from Clinton Hill who will continue her marine studies there after the move. “Who gets to take a ferry to school?”
The ferries will run at least every hour and will be free for students and staff. The school is considering a second ferry route straight from Brooklyn.
The school, which opened in 2003 in Bushwick, will also move to the citywide stage and is hoping to recruit eighth graders from all five boroughs for its freshman class.
Its new island campus – which has views of the Statue of Liberty – will cut down on the hundreds of hours students now spend on subways and buses trekking to the shore, especially for freshmen, who visit 17 different waterside spots throughout the year.
It will also make it easier for students to continue work restoring the harbor’s oyster population, which they hope will help bolster its ecosystem.
“We’ve always told students that [the harbor] is their classroom, but it hasn’t really been that way because it was so hard to get to,” said co-founder Murray Fisher. “Now it’s theirs to use and to learn from.”
Plans are in the works for renovating a second building on the island with direct water access that will hold a boat-building workshop, fish farms and provide storage for sailing, scuba and crew gear.
“I’m excited that now we don’t have to go that far to go the water, said Jericsson Pichardo, 16, a Harbor School junior from Cypress Hills. “You can see the fish right there.”
Jericsson, who learned to swim at the school two years ago and is now on its scuba squad, is thrilled that he’ll no longer have to trek miles to a dive site.
He doesn’t even mind that the move will double his commuting time to over an hour. “I’ve got to wake up earlier,” he said. “But I’ll still like it because I love marine science and all the classes.”
BY Elizabeth Lazarowitz