Life of a Harbor School Diver

NYHS Professional Diving is the only program of its kind in the United States, training high school students as effective scuba divers and putting them to work underwater on real environmental restoration projects like the Billion Oyster Project. The Professional Diving program prepares students for work in the commercial and recreational diving industries, as well as providing a scientific diving foundation for students hoping to pursue marine science studies in college.

Sophomore Year: Students are certified as entry-level PADI Open Water Divers and improve their skills and knowledge through specialized Adventure Dive training – including underwater navigation, deep diving, night diving, boat diving, etc. Adventure dive training culminates with certification as PADI Advanced Open Water Divers. In the winter, students study local and Carribean species identification, introducing them to task loading underwater and providing a foundation for scientific dive training the following year. Students learn terrestrial rescue skills including CPR and first aid, emergency oxygen treatment, neurological assessments, and care for hazardous marine life injuries culminating with certification in DAN First Aid for the Diving Professional. In the spring they further their dive experience in open water with a focus on self rescue, local diving practices and marine life.

Junior Year: Dive students work towards certification as NYHS Scientific Divers. NYHS is the only public high school in the country to offer this college-level certification, which enjoys full reciprocity at major universities and research stations. During scientific diver studies, students learn about diving physics and physiology, decompression theory and procedures, and how to assemble and supervise a safe and effective research diving team. Students learn to use photography and video equipment, dry suits, full face masks, underwater communications, harnesses and tethers, all of which are put to use as we assist the other five Harbor School CTE programs in installing and monitoring BOP oyster restoration sites in the challenging, low-viz, strong current, cold water conditions of New York Harbor.

Senior Year: Divers are introduced to Public Safety Diving and the basics of Commercial Diving, including search and recovery, surface supply air, piling/dock assessment, non-destructive testing (NDT), and ship husbandry. Seniors also learn the basics of equipment maintenance and repair. Students study and practice for their PADI Rescue Diver certification, in which they learn to prevent problems before they occur and aid and assist in the event of an emergency. During the spring, some students purse their Divemaster certification, allowing them to work in the recreational dive industry immediately upon graduation. Others begin work as interns in the industry, including cleaning tanks and educating the public at the New York Aquarium, and organizing and supervising Billion Oyster Project dives.

Requirements: Dive Students are required to spend multiple weekend days and after school hours training at the pool and in open water. Students are expected to prove themselves as safe divers and valuable members of the dive team. To be accepted into the program, students must pass a swim/tread test and have been medically cleared by a physician for diving.

Industry Certifications:

  • PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Open Water Diver
  • PADI Advanced Open Water Diver
  • DAN (Divers Alert Network) Diving First Aid for Professional Divers (CPR/AED/Emergency O2/Neuro/First Aid)
  • PADI Specialties: Fish Identification Diver – Full Face Mask Diver – Dry Suit Diver – Enriched Air Diver
  • AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Sciences) Scientific Diver
  • PADI Rescue Diver
  • FDNY Air Compressor Operators License (if 18)
  • PADI Divemaster (if 18 and qualified)