As the third largest economic powerhouse in Washington state, the maritime sector is a vital pillar of our economy. But with seasoned maritime professionals moving into retirement, and new technologies requiring next-generation skills, the industry is at a crossroads of opportunity. Enter Highline Public Schools’ Maritime High School, which opened its doors in September 2021 with a vision to bridge the gap. 

In an era where educators are under growing pressure to equip students with practical skills, Maritime High School’s project-based learning approach is an ideal solution. By seamlessly integrating traditional subjects with maritime skills and marine science, students gain academic knowledge and develop important life skills that will help prepare them for a career in the Pacific Northwest’s maritime sector and beyond. 

Learning at Maritime High School extends beyond the classroom, with students engaging in a career connected learning continuum that blends in-classroom instruction, on-site field experiences, and boat-based learning. Project-based learning and fieldwork begin in 9th grade and culminate in 11th and 12th grade with students participating in an internship with a maritime company.

Maritime High School currently offers two distinct pathways for students to explore. The Marine Science pathway is a two-year program that blends math, English, and marine science courses to foster a deep understanding of marine ecosystems and how they connect to the local communities and careers. This curriculum also incorporates mentorship opportunities and out-of-classroom work experiences in collaboration with Highline College.

The second option focuses on Vessel Operations, Design, and Maintenance, which enables 11th and 12th-grade students to complete Seattle Maritime Academy’s 12-month Marine Engineering Technology Program, culminating in an internship. Students from this pathway graduate with community college credits and technical credentials that make them immediately employable. 

“The carefully curated and invaluable exposure to maritime careers we can offer our students is unlike any other program currently offered to high school-aged students in Washington state,” said Maritime High School Principal Jamila Gordon. “Through immersive activities, engaging fieldwork experiences, and internships with established maritime companies, I’m confident our graduates will emerge fully equipped to navigate successful careers within the maritime field or continue their studies at an educational institution of their choosing.”

Additionally, these programs are mutually beneficial, exposing students to career pathways and enabling companies to connect with enthusiastic young talent. The Washington Maritime Federation (WMF) noted in a recent study that the maritime sector supported an impressive 174,300 jobs, $14.4 billion in labor income, and $45.9 billion in business revenues in 2022. This included jobs in Maritime Logistics & Shipping, Shipbuilding, Repair & Maintenance, Commercial Fishing & Seafood Production, and more, with the average maritime worker earning upwards of $100,000. With thousands of maritime employees on track to retire over the next few years, there will be a growing need for skilled individuals to fill these vacancies.

Whether graduates choose to enter the workforce directly or further their studies at two or four-year colleges, Maritime High School equips students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive. While the largest number of maritime jobs are in King and Kitsap counties, there are opportunities for graduates to earn family-wage incomes in all 39 counties across Washington state.

As Maritime High School prepares for its inaugural graduating class in 2025, its commitment to fostering maritime excellence continues to drive its mission forward. And with the anticipated launch of a new Marine Construction pathway in the 2024-2025 academic year, the school is poised to fuel even more opportunities for students to pursue diverse careers within the local maritime industry. It is time to start nurturing the next generation of maritime leaders and embark on a journey of exploration and discovery. The adventure begins today.

Maritime High School is a collaborative project of Highline Public Schools, Northwest Maritime Center, Port of Seattle, and the Duwamish River Community Coalition. The school is currently accepting students entering grades 9-11, whether they live within Highline Public Schools boundaries or not.

Interested families and students can learn more at:

https://maritime.highlineschools.org

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