Last month, 15 students from the UA New York Harbor School became certified divers during the school’s annual excursion to the Bahamas. Organized and generously supported by the Billion Oyster Project, eligible sophomores in the Professional Diving career and technical education program earned their PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification at the Island School, a sustainable campus on the island of Eleuthera. Along with the students, two Harbor School alumni also went to the Island School for further training as they work toward their Divemaster certification.

The Professional Diving program is one of seven marine-themed career and technical education pathways at the Harbor School. This annual trip allows students to hone their skills and build their underwater experience in the Caribbean before being introduced to the challenging conditions of diving in the New York Harbor. The trip also helps young people build bonds, confidence, and character as they must work together as a team to be successful.

“One of the biggest things I learned through this trip was that being able to ask for help exemplifies true strength,” says Gabby S., a student at the Harbor School. “This trip is something that truly changed me as a person and a team member.”

Sophomore Brien D. adds that “we are a very teamwork oriented class as we are all part of a large operation that requires every single one of us at our best effort. If we don’t have one part, everything may crash down, so having the bonds we make on this trip allows for everyone to get to know each other better and work together on a much easier scale.”

“It is very important to familiarize yourself with many different environments as a diver, so that you can adapt and thrive in any environment that you may be called to perform in,” says a student identified as TPF. “This trip gave us a chance to do just that.”

The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School was founded by the Urban Assembly, South Street Seaport, and Waterkeeper Alliance in 2003. Located on Governors Island in the New York Harbor, the school offers project-based experiential learning in seven career and technical education programs: Aquaculture, Marine Biology Research, Marine Policy and Advocacy, Marine Systems Technology, Ocean Engineering, Professional Diving, and Vessel Operations. The Harbor School is one of the UA’s top performing schools with a graduation rate of 84% (7% higher than the citywide average).