New York Harbor School

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Coordinates: 40°41′27″N 74°01′13″W / 40.690723°N 74.020279°W / 40.690723; -74.020279

Urban Assembly New York Harbor School
550 Wheeler Avenue
New York, NY 10004
United States
Type Public
Established 2003
Founder Murray Fisher
Principal Jeffrey Chetirko
Grades 9–12
Enrollment approx. 430
Color(s) Blue and White
Mascot Sharks
NYHS fr south pergola jeh.jpg

The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, also called the Harbor School, is a public high school located on Governors Island. This school is unique in New York City, which has 538 miles (866 km) of waterfront, in that it attempts to relate every aspect of its curriculum to the water. The school is part of the Urban Assembly network of 21 college-prep schools in New York City. The New York City Department of Education classifies the Harbor School as a Career and Technical Education (CTE) school. Urban Assembly is a private fundraising organization to develop and support small public schools. The Urban Assembly schools are regular public schools, not charter schools.[1]

A stated focus of the school is to continue to work with organizations such as Waterkeeper Alliance and the Governors Island Alliance to ensure the improvement of New York City's harbor.[2]


The NYHS officially opened in 2003. The school was founded with the help of three organizations: the Urban Assembly,[3] the South Street Seaport Museum, and Waterkeeper Alliance. Before moving to its own building on Governors Island, the school was located within the Bushwick Campus, first in the Annex and then, in 2004, on the building's fourth floor.

Bushwick High School, built in 1911, was one of the first public high schools in that area, on the former Union Cemetery used by Methodist churches of Manhattan and Brooklyn. As part of the New York City's Department of Education's effort to close large high schools and replace them with much smaller schools, Bushwick High School began to be phased out in 2003. In that year, three new high schools were founded on the Bushwick campus. One was the Harbor School, under founding principal, Nathan Dudley. The other two schools were the Academy of Urban Planning and the Bushwick School for Social Justice.[4] At the close of Bushwick High School in 2006, the Academy of Environmental Leadership, a fourth high school, was added to the campus.

Since its founding, the Harbor School worked to secure a site on the water so that the school could better fulfill its mission. After several years and several proposals, the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC) announced in November 2006 that the Harbor School would be moving to Governors Island. The NYHS left Bushwick in July 2010 and moved to a new academic building on Governor's Island, formerly Building 550.


The Harbor School runs various programs related to New York's maritime experience. This distinguishes this school from other public high schools in New York City. Private and public funding support the programs.

Students at the school go out into the harbor of New York City every Tuesday and Thursday. The school terms the harbor their "outdoor laboratory." Students also regularly study New York City's two major rivers, the Hudson River and the East River. Students sample and measure water quality, attend lectures on marine science and river history, and study the river's benthic zone. Students also learn how to sail and navigate on a medium-sized schooner, called the Lettie G. Howard. Students also care for aquatic organisms. Students also study animals that inhabit both aquatic and land-based ecosystems. Swimming is a required class and students must be able to swim in order to graduate.

Several after-school programs also relate to the water. They include rowing, swimming, the fishing club, the Harbor Science Club. There are also non-harbor-related clubs at the school, such as the National Parks Club, which visits the several National Park sites in the city.

Career and technical education[edit]

The New York City Department of Education classifies the UA New York Harbor School as a Career and Technical Education high school. CTE is the new term for vocational education. The New York City DOE has rethought CTE training based on the growing need for college-educated people who are also trained in technical fields. The Harbor School is part of this effort to prepare students for college with a regular New York State Regents Diploma and for a technical career.[5]

Students may graduate in one of six programs: vessel operations, ocean engineering, marine systems technology, professional diving, marine biology research and aquaculture.>


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