Riverside Academy looks to ‘blue economy’ for student learning

Dec 13, 2017

Once a failing city school, Buffalo's former Riverside High School has been transformed into a new Innovative High School.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the Riverside Academy is providing an education about the 'Blue Economy'. 

Ribbon cutting inside Riverside Academy.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Students joined Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash to cut the ribbon launching the district's seventh Innovative High School.

Riverside Academy students join ribbon cutting event.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The school reopened in September with a new cohort of nearly 100-freshmen.  Riverside Academy, located on Ontario Street, is within walking distance of Lake Erie. It makes an ideal spot for students to learn about the Blue Economy. 

Principal David Hills says students will learn about a variety of topics including aqua culture. 

“That we can turn our local waterways and the resources there into travel and tourism occupations, ecology and conservation, health and wellness and basically a myriad of opportunities with the sciences,” Hills explained. 

Student Alizette Santiago said being part of the inaugural class is a great opportunity. Santiago said she is learning so much about the Great Lakes and would like to be a marine biologist. 

“Now we get more in biology and with stuff that’s in the water and how we can help make it better,” Santiago said.     

Freshmen students are the very first class at the new school.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The school is partnering with SUNY Buffalo State, Buffalo Niagara WaterKeeper and Buffalo Maritime Center.  Chris Murawski is with Waterkeeper. He noted how exciting it is to experience a whole school dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the waterways.

“Realistically do you see these students becoming gainfully employed?” asked Buckley. 

“I definitely see the growth in this sector. There’s a lot of work to restore our waterways and to protect our waterways – there’s green infrastructure, there’s shoreline restoration that need to be done, there’s a lot of creeks and streams that need to be cleaned up – so definitely the jobs will be there,” responded Murawski.   

Maritime is teaching students how to build wood boats.

“The nice thing about our program is we’re teaching them basic skills that will apply to all sorts of jobs they may want to pursue in the future,” remarked Roger Allen, head instructor at Maritime.   

Roger Allen tells us there are many careers students could pursue.

“There’s the shipping – there’s a big industry like that, pilots are here, tug boats are here, fireboats are here, police boats are here – all sorts of on the water activities like that. There are maintenance jobs, working on the waterfront, building wharfs, building docks, building buildings on the waterfront,” Rogers noted.

Ocian Price is excited to be part of the very first class to experience the new ‘blue economy’ program in the city district.  

“I didn’t know the river was so polluted to be honest and I didn’t know that most of the economy around here depended on the river,” said Price.

As the city’s waterfront continues to emerge in a major renaissance, the District is making sure students have the skills for potential jobs in Buffalo's Blue Economy