PHOTO: Micaela WattsStudents listened to their valedictorian in the rain, before lightning caused the ceremony to be moved inside.
Faculty and students at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School believe in the Scandinavian saying: There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
For four years, members of the class of 2012 endured classes in the rain, snow, and sleet as they learned the ins and outs of marine biology and ship engineering through sailing and diving in the New York Harbor.
But that didn't stop a severe thunderstorm from interrupting their graduation Friday, which was held outside the small public high school's campus on Governors Island.
When lightning struck yards from where the ceremony was being held, Principal Nate Dudley helped direct an evacuation of the area. Students, teachers, and families fled to shelter in a tunnel in a nearby building, crying young siblings in tow, then waded through ankle-deep puddles to the school's dining hall. They quickly dismantled tables that had been set for a senior banquet, and the ceremony resumed where it left off, in the middle of the valedictorian Cesar Gutierrez's speech.
Dudley said that efficiency and resiliency represents the Harbor School. "We roll with whatever happens to make our programs work," he said.
Dudley, too, was graduating, after overseeing the school since it opened in Bushwick in 2003. This summer he is leaving Harbor School to become a deputy leader in one of the networks that the Department of Education runs to support schools. He'll also continue working toward a doctorate in education leadership at Seton Hall University.
Southside High School Principal Carol Burris and Harbor School Principal Nate Dudley at Burris's school on Monday. The pair oppose the state's new teacher evaluation requirements.
The Long Island principals who galvanized opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's teacher evaluation proposals say they won't let the fact that the proposals won legislative approval stop their protest.
Together, Sean Feeney and Carol Burris in October launched a petition critiquing the evaluation system that has garnered more than 8,000 signatures, nearly 1,500 of them from principals. The petition argued that the state’s evaluation regulations — which require a portion of teachers’ and principals' ratings to be based on their students’ test scores — are unsupported by research, prone to errors, and too expensive at a time of budget cuts.
Those issues haven't disappeared just because the legislature agreed late last night to turn Cuomo's proposals into law, Feeney and Burris said today.
They said they would still run an ad featuring about 70 principals in next week's Legislative Gazette, and they would still ask lawmakers to shield teachers' ratings from transparency laws that could land the ratings in newspapers, as happened last month in New York City. More than that, they said, they would still speak out about problems they have identified in the evaluation system's requirements.
"One way or another we have to stand up for what we believe in, and no matter what happens, we've stated and articulated our position," Feeney told me this morning. "We'll see what happens after that."
Harbor School sophomore Cullen Palicka sets out for the school's inaugural regatta today
Seafaring students from a maritime-themed high school took to the New York Harbor today for a fundraising regatta.
Teams from corporations paid to join sailors on 16 boats, including two named "Extra Credit" and "Late Pass" that were manned by students from the Harbor School, in a race around Governor's Island, where the school has been the sole full-time tenant since last year.
"We're finally introducing the Harbor School to the sailing community," said Murray Fisher, the eight-year-old school's co-founder and the head of its support foundation.
Coupled with a fundraising gala tonight on Governor's Island, the regatta appears likely to take in $125,000, organizers said.
That money could go a long way at a school that has to pay for boat fuel and oyster habitats in addition to the salaries of its teachers. Each of the school's six career and technical education programs — which teach fish farming, boat repair, and deep-sea diving, among other skills — has a full-time teacher and needs an assistant and supplies if students are to get strong enough training to prepare them for maritime professions.