Through a unique partnership, the Highline School District is opening the Maritime High School to provide students with hands-on, project-based maritime learning. 

Maritime High School, a public school for students in South King County, opens its doors on Thursday, September 2, 2021 to its first-ever class of ninth graders. The school will provide an innovative, project-based learning experience that will allow students to learn about careers in the maritime industry and marine sciences.

Administered by Highline Public Schools and temporarily located in Des Moines, Maritime High School is the result of a unique collaboration between four local partners: the Northwest Maritime Center, Highline Public Schools, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, and the Port of Seattle. The idea for the school was sparked by the region’s growing workforce gaps and the need to involve new generations of BIPOC youth. The goal is to cultivate the next generation of mariners by providing exceptional education, resources and opportunities to students who are furthest from educational justice.

Maritime High School will offer students in grades 9-12 project-based learning that will prepare them to be collaborative-problem solvers and develop 21st century science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills. Students will learn by doing, connecting what they learn in the classroom to authentic, relevant, real-world experiences – including onsite, field-based experience on maritime vessels and maritime sites along the Duwamish River.

“We have a saying around here: the sea is the most powerful teacher we know,” said Northwest Maritime Center Executive Director, Jake Beattie. “Harnessing that power to address racial inequities and recruit the next generation of maritime workers – it just doesn’t get any better than that.”

Students at Maritime High School combine core academic disciplines such as reading, writing, math, social studies, and science with a deep dive into career opportunities within the maritime and environmental sectors. Their school experience will include mentorship and internship opportunities within areas of study such as vessel operations, marine engineering, and environmental law.

“The maritime industry is a pillar of the state’s economy,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins. “As our region’s workforce begins to retire, we will face a shortage of 150,000 mariners by 2025. Initiatives like Maritime High School will introduce meaningful career pathways to new generations of local families.”

Currently, less than 3% of maritime jobs are held by women and people of color. Maritime High School aims to address this imbalance by enrolling and empowering students who are under-represented in maritime and ocean science careers. Students of color make up more than 70% of students in the residential areas closest to many of the region’s maritime industries.

“Young people who live in Duwamish Valley are rooted in and contributing to their community, and their futures deserve our investment and support,” said Duwamish Valley Cleanup Coalition Executive Director, Paulina Lopez. “Maritime High School is an opportunity for our community to pull together to redress the injustices of the past by offering our kids better opportunities for college and careers.”

Students will undertake multi-disciplinary projects and will graduate with skills, knowledge, and experiences relevant to maritime industry careers. Community and industry partners will be involved in developing the curriculum.

“Our Highline promise to know every student by name, strength and need compels us to provide innovative options for our students,” said Highline School District Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield. “When students can learn in the context of something they are passionate about and community partners collaborate to provide real-world learning experiences for them, it is powerful. We’ve seen this in the success of Raisbeck Aviation High School. These opportunities can transform families and communities for the better.”

Maritime High School’s first day of school is Thursday, September 2, 2021. Partners, community leaders, Highline School District officials, and Maritime High School staff and students will celebrate its opening with a school assembly and small group activities between 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Learn more about Maritime High School in this January 2021 article by 48° North columnist Deborah Bach, and at:

Feature image courtesy of the Northwest Maritime Center.