Out in the ocean, a captain loses his concentration for only a moment and his boat strikes a buoy. His hull is damaged and his crew is screaming, but worst of all, he has just gotten an F.
The ocean, the buoy, and even the scraping sound of the hull will all be part of a “bridge simulator” added next year to the renovated Aquaculture Vocational Center at New Haven’s Sound School. On Monday, New Haven school administrators and students toured the high school’s uncompleted facility, which will train its students for maritime vocations.
“It is another choice for children in the New Haven school system,” said New Haven Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo. “I think when young people choose the type of education, they’re more likely to learn.”
The facilities at the school cover many areas of marine science and technology. Students can study boat construction, fishing and aquaculture, the raising of marine life for food production.
“[Students] do research on shellfish and finfish,” school principal Steven Pynn said. “We produce over a million oysters a year.”
The Aquaculture Vocational Center is one of six aquaculture centers the state has committed to constructing, Pynn said. The first facility is already completed in Bridgeport.
Students had to apply and interview to attend the school. Pynn said about half of the students are from New Haven and the rest come from 20 surrounding towns.
“We have about 300 [students] now and we expect to have 360 by the start of the year,” Pynn said.
Mayo said the marine focus of the school was chosen because of a workforce shortage in maritime industries.
“We looked to where the jobs would be,” Mayo said. “It kept coming back that this whole aquaculture resource was really opening up.”
The school includes a state-of-the-art room for constructing more than 30 types of boats and a fish production facility. Even the standard blackboard has undergone a high-tech redesign at the Sound School. It is now computerized and capable of storing lectures for quick reference.
“It really makes the old blackboard something that’s obsolete,” Pynn said. “Anything that you can put on a computer goes right up on the board for the students.”
Pynn said he is especially proud that the program is designed to prepare students for college.
“Our kids go to some of the best schools in the country, many with full scholarships,” Pynn said.
Architects plan to complete construction on the school by 2006. Plans include the bridge simulator and an artificial marsh where students can grow cranberries.
Students said they were happy most areas of the school were nearly complete.
“I think its great that we finally get some new buildings,” said Bill Bogan, a junior at the school. “I see other New Haven schools being renovated and it’s finally our turn.”