Friday was a very special day in the lives of a dozen Bay Area high school girls. Not only did they graduate from a life-altering 18-week maritime program, but they got to row and sail the wooden skiff that they built with their own hands in recent weeks.
The program, called Tall Ship Semester for Girls, draws girls with little or no maritime experience from high schools all over the greater Bay Area, and is administered by staff at SF Maritime Park. Each fall and spring 12 girls are selected from a broad pool of applicants to participate in the three-phase program which includes six weeks of classroom instruction and small boat sailing lessons, a six-week voyage on a Caribbean-based tall ship, and a six-week internship at the Hyde Street historical park. With normal school disciplines woven into the curriculum, students receive full school credit for their efforts.
While learning to use hand tools and trim sails may prove to be skills these girls will use throughout their lives, the graduates tell us the ‘life lessons’ they learned have made an even greater impact on their outlook: "Before all this," said one, "I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. Now I realize the world is full of possibilities." Look for more on this program in the July edition of Latitude 38, and see the website for program specifics and application info.