If you have any issues accessing this website, please call 206.652.1129 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Pacific time zone.

Saltchuk Marine CEO Jason Childs: ‘The skills students are learning and the practical application of those skills is a wonderful introduction to various maritime careers.’

Students work on the structure of a boat in a workshop.

Last week, Maritime High School’s second freshman class gathered in the rain to launch four hand-built canoes from the shores of Duwamish Waterway Park. The last of eight projects completed during the year, students spent two months building on previously learned skills to safely design and fabricate the vessels, adding to the school’s growing fleet.

The high school is a public-private partnership based in Des Moines, Washington, that uses hands-on, project-based learning and STEM education to inspire students about maritime careers, marine science, and the environment. Part of the Highline School District, classroom time is supplemented with frequent fieldwork experiences and boat-based learning. By graduation, students have the skills to launch directly into a maritime career or continue studying at college.

“Everything is project-based,” said Tyson Trudel, Maritime Education Manager for the Northwest Maritime Center. He works almost exclusively with Maritime High School students. “This curriculum is called ‘Vessels and Voyages.’ We start the year learning shop safety, then tool safety and usage. Now we’re designing and building. These aren’t kit boats.”

“Building a boat of any kind is a very rewarding but highly complex endeavor, and I’m sure the students feel a strong sense of pride and accomplishment,” said Jason Childs, President and CEO of Saltchuk Marine.

Students worked in small teams using Computer-Assisted Design (CAD) software to design and then fabricate the canoes, which will join the four built by last year’s freshman class for students to use to paddle up and down the Duwamish.

MHS canoes being carried out to the Duwamish river.

“I think we’ve reached peak canoe,” Trudel laughed. “Next year’s freshmen will build a different kind of boat, but each one so far has been built for the river. That’s their very first project here at Maritime High School—Duwamish River History.”

“The Duwamish River serves as a major shipping route for containerized and bulk cargo but has a rich history that will be further strengthened by these students launching their handmade canoes into the water,” Childs continued.

Last year, Saltchuk companies Foss Maritime, TOTE Maritime, and NorthStar Energy pledged $500,000 to support the launch and ongoing sustainability of Maritime High School.

“The skills students are learning and the practical application of those skills is a wonderful introduction to various maritime careers and directly correlates to the work they may encounter in the future. I’m very pleased with the ‘safety-first’ mentality and hands-on methodology of the Maritime High School.”

Student photo credit: Northwest Maritime Center

MHS canoes sit ready to be used at the edge of the Duwamish river.

Hilary Reeves

Hilary Reeves spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining the Saltchuk family of companies as a consultant. Since People of Saltchuk launched in 2014, Reeves has interviewed more than 200 Saltchuk employees from operating companies all over the world. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Reeves is a former president of both the collegiate and local professional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, a graduate of the Society’s Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, and a Toastmaster. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, ski, and practice the piano. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two young daughters.