The Great River Row
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This remarkable school has given students, many of who came from failing schools, a new sense of possibility about their lives. This year, NYHS is graduating its first senior class. In April, a justifiably proud Fisher boasted, "In a school where only 8 percent of the graduates' parents attended college, 95 percent have applied to college."
Olivia Deas, a demure 10th grader living in Manhattan, admits that science wasn't one of her strong suits when she first came to NYHS, but "I've gotten good at it because of all the hands-on experience…now I want to go into anatomy or cell biology." Giovanni Osorio, a 10th grader from Ridgewood in Queens, intends to use what he's learned — testing water quality and sailing on NYHS's 125-foot fishing schooner — in a career that helps the environment.
According to Nathan Dudley, principal of NYHS, the school's goal isn't necessarily to steer students towards marine or science-related careers, but to pique their intellectual curiosity. Its mission is to instill confidence and give kids the skills necessary to succeed at whatever they do in life. Dudley has no doubt, however, that the trek will "create young leaders conscious of what it means to take care of our water and our environment."
I was impressed by the poise, self-confidence and personal ambition of the trekkers I met. Andrew Hernandez, a sweet 10th grader, has "always been curious about where water comes from…I want to see things other people might not see…and learn how the Hudson River has changed from being pure and how it can be fixed." Asha Armstrong, a lively 10th grader from Bushwick, has always been interested in water and boats. "I need to learn something new, and I like to travel and explore," she explained. "I want to know how water gets to my tap…and I'm looking forward to meeting and learning from the kids from the Catskills," said Leydi Basilio, a graceful 11th grader from Canarsie, Brooklyn. And Ryheem Garrison, a soft-spoken 9th grader from Crown Heights, is excited about hiking, rowing and learning about photography. All the trekkers are eager to meet the physical and mental challenges that this journey will present because, as Leydi said, it's their next "great adventure".
The Mountaintop to Tap trek is organized by New York Harbor School, Stroud Water Research Center, The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Riverkeeper, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. For more information about the trek and to track its progress, visit www.stroudcenter.org/nytrek2007. The trekkers' Photograph and Journal Exhibit will be on display at the South Street Seaport in New York City from October 27-November 25 and New York Harbor School in December. To learn more about the New York Harbor School, visit www.nyharborschool.org.