Students from Port Townsend High School sand paddles in the maritime woodworking class, one of many projects that have been implemented as a part of the Maritime Discovery Initiative. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Students from Port Townsend High School sand paddles in the maritime woodworking class, one of many projects that have been implemented as a part of the Maritime Discovery Initiative. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Setting anchor: Permanent home in curriculum sought for Port Townsend maritime program

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend School District’s Maritime Discovery Initiative has received positive community feedback so the district is hoping to implement the initiative as a permanent part of the curriculum.

Maritime Discovery Initiative Director Sarah Rubenstein, Port Townsend School District Superintendent John Polm; and Port Townsend High School Principal Carrie Ehrhardt gave a presentation to the community Wednesday and asked for public input on what they would like to see happen in the program and community.

“A community is really centered around schools,” Rubenstein said. “We all benefit from having classrooms and schools that are really responsive and integrated with the community.”

The Maritime Discovery program is just over three years into its five-year initiative, which brings place-based learning opportunities to students of all grade levels across the Port Townsend School District.

“The initiative was basically getting maritime place-based learning into the district,” Rubenstein said.

By connecting with community partners, students have had the opportunity to help with salmon habitat restoration, build their own boats, help restore the historic schooner Adventuress and undertake projects based on literature by authors such as John Steinbeck.

Rubenstein said now that the initiative is passed the halfway point and has been seen as a success by both the school district and the community, they are looking for ways to make these programs work in the long term.

“Part of this five-year initiative has been trying to figure out how to make the program sustainable,” Rubenstein said.

According to Rubenstein, the hope is that the district will simply adopt the initiative, making it a permanent part of the school district’s educational programming and mission.

“We’re looking at things like connecting these programs to district standards and community partners,” Rubenstein said.

Rubenstein said getting more of the community involved in the school could not only help the district but the city of Port Townsend as well.

“The city has been trying to attract young families and having a thriving school district could help,” Rubenstein said. “The resounding message on Wednesday was that what our community wants is a school district that is connected with the community and the school district really needs to lead that work.”

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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