The Tall Ship program, organized through the Catalina Island Maritime Institute, has led thousands of students on nearly 550 voyages at sea.
In April, POLAHS Maritime Studies Director Anthony DeSanto received a $4,000 donation from an anonymous sponsor. Mr. DeSanto was asked to select one POLAHS student to participate in the Tall Ship Summer Sail; the donation would cover the tuition. With a "D" average and poor attendance records, Valerie would not have been a likely choice three years ago. However, she discovered a passion for the marine environment in POLAHS courses like Ocean Politics and History of the Port. She attended summer school to make up her grades and says her attitude about school changed when she was inspired. Today she earns "A's" and "B's" and is looking forward to military service in the Navy and a Criminal Justice degree after graduation. Mr. DeSanto knew Valerie would greatly benefit from the summer study program based on her application essay and time spent with her in class, and says, She earned her place on the ship.
Throughout the trip, students began each day at 6:00 am and attended classes in Marine Biology. With seven stops from Long Beach to Santa Rosa, they also ran the ship with instruction from a professional crew. At night, students camped under the stars at each harbor. One of only four girls aboard the ship, Valerie would like to say, "THANK YOU" to her sail sponsor for a life-changing trip.