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Celebrating the BOP Flagship: Honoring Harbor Folk at Harbor School Awards Dinner 2016

By Susannah Black
February 22, 2016

Talking to Carter

The Billion Oyster Project was born at New York Harbor School.  Murray Fisher’s and Pete Malinowski’s commitment to making on-water, in-water, ecologically intelligent place-based education a possibility for New York City public school students led them to envision an education that was centered around restoring New York Harbor by restoring its oyster reefs.  Such an education gave context to the maritime and marine science skills students at Harbor were learning every day, and enabled students to put their developing love of the Harbor into action as they served their fellow-citizens.

BOP has brought aspects of the Harbor School education to students beyond its walls– but on Wednesday, February 24, the BOP and Harbor School community came together to celebrate the school itself, and its students.

On that night, hundreds of New Yorkers from the maritime, waterfront and philanthropic worlds joined NBC’s Willie Geist, co-chairs Jayni and Chevy Chase and Captain John de Cruz of the Sandy Hook Pilots; H. Carl McCall, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York, at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan for the Harbor School Awards Dinner to benefit the programs of New York Harbor School.  Since its inception in 2003, New York Harbor School has been preparing students for careers in marine science and marine technology. Graduates have continued their studies at top universities including SUNY Maritime, Roger Williams, and Columbia, and have gone on to work as officers in the U.S. Merchant Marine, to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, and to take their places as key members of the New York maritime community.


The Awards Dinner is Harbor School’s major annual benefit, which has for years been a key event in the New York City social calendar.  This year, Harbor School honored key members of our community: the Bradford N. Swett Foundation, and Rear Admiral Michael Alfultis of SUNY Maritime College.

Accepting his award from Chairman McCall, RADM Alfultis noted that he was “committed both personally and as the President of SUNY Maritime to doing everything I can to help Harbor School.”  He described the pipeline between Harbor and SUNY Maritime, which he hopes to strengthen, and mentioned the current SUNY students who are Harbor grads. “You think I run the school?” he said. “I don’t run the school.  Harbor students run the school.”

McCall & Alfultis

Harbor School students joined Murray in presenting the Admiral’s Award to the Bradford N. Swett Foundation.  As she accepted the award on the Foundation’s behalf, Holly Swett focused on the beneficiaries of the Swett Foundation’s after school program funding: “Thank you,” she said, “to the students who have done so well.”

Swett & MF

Harbor also honored one of its own: Luis Melendez, Harbor’s Assistant Waterfront Director, received the Peter Matthiessen Award for Leadership in the Marine Environment.  “I graduated in 2007,” said Melendez, “and I’m still learning from these teachers.  And now I’m learning from the students too.”


This event was made possible thanks to generous sponsors including Judy and Jamie Dimon, The Durst Organization, First Data, Hornblower Cruises and Events, Moore Charitable Foundation, Sandy Hook Pilots, Megan Shattuck and Lindsay Tomenson, Hannah Swett and Mark Brookes, Fisher Island Oyster Farm, Glosten Associates, the ​International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots​, ​and Munich Re.

Last Wednesday was a celebration of this extraordinary work that the students and teachers at Harbor are doing every day. The Harbor and BOP community truly showed its commitment to the future of the maritime trades in New York, to the health of its Harbor, and to the education and wellbeing of its young people.