Boys start lobstering in their early teens on Deer Isle, Maine. They can be millionaires by age 30. So how do you keep them in high school? asks Sarah Butrymowicz. A marine studies program is showing future fisherman that high school matters.
The island’s small high school had the lowest graduation rate in the state at 57 percent, writes Now it’s up to 90 percent.
Principal Tom West added a 45-minute “intervention” period to help students catch up. Some also are required to attend before- or after-school tutoring.
Then teachers designed courses with a marine studies focus. They talked to marine-based nonprofits and fisherman to see what graduates will need to know, such as how to handle the financial end of a fishing business.
Fifteen-year-old Elliot Nevells, who makes good money lobstering in the summer, was planning to drop out till he enrolled in the marine studies program.
. . . Elliot and the other 15 marine studies students are taking math and earth science with a marine twist. Sometimes that means solving math problems with hands-on projects, like building Styrofoam boat hull models to scale. Other times, the class looks more traditional, with students working their way through algebraic expressions.
“Last year, three-quarters of graduates either enrolled in college or got their lobster license, up from two-thirds the previous year,” writes Butrymowicz.
In addition to marine studies, the school has designed courses with an arts focus and plans to add a pathway for students interested in health careers.