A Day at Harbor

The student experience at Harbor School is defined largely by how often and to what extent students take advantage of what the school has to offer. From the moment students arrive, they are invited to participate in the school’s unique on-water programming.

We caught up with Paul Blatt ’14 who shares advice on setting goals and extracurriculars, and gives us a day’s glimpse of his experience at Harbor School.


Paul Blatt ’14


CTE Program
Vessel Operations
I started at Harbor School without really knowing what I wanted to do after high school. Though, I knew for sure that a hands-on education was what I needed. I’ve always been good at learning-by-doing, and Harbor School was perfect for that. When I arrived as a freshman in 2010, I had limited on-water experience. As a rising senior, I am very happy to say that I have logged more than 85 days at sea and I am looking forward to a career on the water.

The great thing about Harbor School is that it teaches responsibility and the value of teamwork. Even at Indock, the school’s freshman orientation program, students learn that they must “pull hard and pull together” — a motto we have for not just raising sails but for all our work together.

“Harbor School teaches responsibility and the value of teamwork.”


On Setting Goals

It’s really important to begin high school with a sense of the future. I recommend that incoming freshmen think about life after high school, not in terms of where they want to go, but in terms of what they need to have accomplished and experienced in order to have a choice of where to go. Start high school with a plan of self-improvement and set ambitious short-term goals: I want to keep an 90+ average in all my classes by the first marking period and I want to join at least one after school activity by October. Keeping on track with these types of short term goals and setting new ones each semester will prove invaluable when it’s time to begin applying to college. Trust me!

On Extracurriculars

How many public high schools in New York City teach their students to sail? Take advantage of the unique on-water activities that Harbor School provides. Go rowing or swimming. Build a boat. Learn to fish. Test the water quality in New York Harbor and then present your findings to local, state, and federal agencies. At Harbor School, students have opportunities to make real connections with the water and its these opportunities that define the school’s extracurricular activities. You can play basketball at any high school. Can you take your friends for a cruise on your school’s sailboats?


6:30 a.m.

Wake up and get ready for school

7:15 a.m.

Take train to Whitehall/South Ferry

8:15 a.m.

Catch the ferry to Governors Island. I like to sit with my friends on the upper deck, starboard side. From there, the morning view of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty is spectacular.

8:30 a.m.

Pick up a Grab & Go Breakfast Bag from the Mess Hall and head to my locker to drop off my books. I meet up with my friend from Aquaculture who walks with me to class.

Period 1

United States History, with Alex Jones. We spend a lot of time looking at historical documents and making sense of history through primary sources.

Period 2

English Language Arts, with Tim Sykes, who always starts class with a 5-minute grammar lesson. So far, we have had 28 lessons on the use of commas. Did you know that the serial comma is optional?

Period 3

Algebra 2/Trigonometry, with Claire Lorenz. She insists that we use proper mathematical notation and that we always rationalize the denominator. Never, ever, leave a radical expression in the denominator. Seriously!

Period 4

Physical Education, with Harold Butler, who is also the school’s Sailing Coach. We ran to Pier 101 and back, three times. I clocked in at under 3 minutes.

Period 5

Lunch outside on Colonel’s Row with my buddies from Marine Systems Tech, who pull me into an impromptu game of soccer.

Periods 6-8

Vessel Operations, with Capt. Aaron Singh. We take Indy 7 out into Buttermilk Channel to practice Emergency Drills for our Joint-Drill Day with the U.S. Coast Guard. Capt. Aaron expects us to earn full marks on all drills: Man Overboard, Fire, and Abandon Ship.

3:45 p.m.

Sailing on J/24s up the Hudson River. I meet up with my team of underclassmen at Pier 101 and assign them positions for the sail. We work on setting the spinnaker.

6:30 p.m.

Head home from Pier 66

7:45 p.m.

Dinner with family

8:15 p.m.