New magnet school will focus on maritime education


SEARSPORT - Famous for ship captains, Searsport will soon be home to a school helping to continue the town's sea-faring history.

"There's something in the water here in Searsport," said Cipperly Good, curator and collections manager for the Penobscot Marine Museum.

For generations, Searsport was known as a maritime hub, famous for its captains and ship-building industry.

Locals hope a new public magnet school will continue that tradition.

"I believe the entire town is behind it," said Jack Merrithew, chair of selectmen for the town of Searsport.

"The idea of the school is to make sure that kids that want to work on the water and are really drawn naturally and have an aptitude for being on the water get a reality of what's out there to be done," said Captain Eric Jergenson, chair of the board of trustees for the school.

The Maine Ocean School has been years in the making, and will have a curriculum focused on marine science, technology, transportation and engineering.

"It's really an opportunity to get our kids a chance to be educated in Maine in a focused track, and get an opportunity to be able to come back and live and work in Maine," said Jergenson.

The school plans to be up and running by 2018, and in the meantime a lot of planning has to occur to make sure all the details are smoothed out, including exactly where the school will be housed,.

"It's a growing issue. When we start out, we have a smaller number of students, we have different needs than when we grow larger," Jergenson said.

The school will still offer core classes like English and Phys. Ed., just with an ocean theme.

Students can take advantage of the Port of Searsport to learn about maritime trades in a hands-on environment.

"It's an excellent opportunity to train our young people. We have all the resources, we have the history," said Merrithew.

"And so that taps into the jobs and the resources, and how to think about 'Here's the past, here's the present and then the future of this industry,'" said Good.

The school's board of trustees will hold its monthly planning meeting Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 PM.

Kayla Fish

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Kayla joined the ABC 7 & FOX 22 news team in May of 2017. She got into journalism because she loves talking with people, and she's incredibly grateful to share the stories of Mainers throughout the region.

She got her start in broadcasting way back in middle school as a member of a morning announcements TV broadcast club, and her love for the news industry took off from there.

Kayla graduated from Penn State University in 2017 with degrees in broadcast journalism and Spanish. During her time as a student at Penn State, Kayla was an executive producer and reporter for the "Centre County Report", an Emmy award-winning student-run newscast. She studied abroad in Ronda, Spain and traveled to Panama with an international reporting class. Kayla kept busy in college, spending four years working as a student manager in the dining hall.

Kayla grew up in the village of Shawnee-on-Delaware, located in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, so transitioning into life in Vacationland was a piece of cake! A self-described winter fanatic, she loves all things snow related, including hitting the slopes on her snowboard. She also likes hiking, kayaking or doing anything outdoors. She loves meeting new people so if you see her around, be sure to stop and say hi!

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