Great Lakes students prepare for 'Blue Economy'

Dec 13, 2017

Buffalo has transformed a failing school into Riverside Academy, a high school that prepares students for jobs in aquaculture, tourism and other sectors of the "Blue Economy."

Students join in the ribbon-cutting for Riverside Academy.
Credit Eileen Buckley, WBFO

The location is perfect: Riverside is within walking distance of the Niagara River, which flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.

And as WBFO reports, the school is partnering with SUNY Buffalo State, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and Buffalo Maritime Center. 

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week, Chris Murawski of the Waterkeeper organization said it's exciting to see a whole school dedicated to restoring and preserving waterways.

“I definitely see the growth in this sector. There’s a lot of work to restore our waterways and to protect our waterways – there’s green infrastructure, there’s shoreline restoration that need to be done, there’s a lot of creeks and streams that need to be cleaned up – so definitely the jobs will be there,” he told WBFO.   

Ocian Price, a freshman, has already gained some important perspective. “I didn’t know the river was so polluted to be honest and I didn’t know that most of the economy around here depended on the river.” 

Other Great Lakes cities have similar programs. 

At the Maritime Academy of Toledo, for example, students learn basics like math and English. They also take classes on  boat-building.

Students practice boat-building skills at Toledo's maritime school.
Credit Elizabeth MIller

The Toledo public charter school is one of about 60 schools nationwide that incorporate maritime or marine themes.  Maritime focuses on the operation, repair, and maintenance of ships and boats, and marine themes include oceanography and biology.

The students also participate in a daily ritual similar to the U.S. Navy Colors Ceremony, as the whole school gathers in front of the American flag.