By Tug Olson
In the crisp, early morning air, junior Trevor Holt turns the ignition and the Jack Cotant springs to life.
Maritime teacher Rick Collins watches as the class disembarks. It’s first period, so while students are reviewing integrated science notes and analyzing quotes from Of Mice and Men, Collins’s class is getting real life experience on the ocean.
“There’s a lot of job opportunities in Southeast Alaska on the water,” said Collins. “Maritime gives you an introduction to many of those careers”
Collins has first hand experience seeing his students grow as mariners.
“It’s a slow growth, but definitely more than they realize,” said Collins. “A student that we had that graduated last year just walked through the door and he’s worked on a tug all summer. It’s going to be his career at this point.”
Some students who don’t wish to pursue a career in the marine industry can still use the skills for personal use.
“There’s a lot of folks who own boats around here as their primary source of recreation,” Collins added. “Maritime will help you be safer in the operation of your pleasure boats.”
Junior Trevor Holt said he took the class for the skills, not necessarily the job opportunities.
“When I started, I intended to [work on boats], now I’m doing it because I’d like to learn about boating,” he said.
Although there is a clear benefit from this class, it is growing tougher for students to enroll thanks to scheduling conflict and despite the value of the course, vocational classes haven’t been immune to cuts. This puts students who want to go into vocational fields as an adult at a disadvantage.
“We have one Maritime 2 and one Maritime 1 offering a day,” said Collins. “It’s hard for students to fit that into their schedule. There are less and less course offerings in vocational areas. If students aren’t exposed to those things, it’s very hard to make that leap”.
Science teacher Dominic Pader knows how important it is for Kayhi to have the maritime class.
“In a place like Ketchikan where so many people’s jobs and recreation activities revolve around boating,” said Pader, “ it is extremely advantageous for our students to have an opportunity to take a class like maritime.”
Most students may just accept Maritime as just another class option, but Collins understands how unique it is for students to take such a practical course that is so relevant in Ketchikan’s community.
“We’re one of the only places in the entire nation that has maritime, so we’re really lucky”