A+ World Academy is a boarding school based on a ship with a rich history. The school was established by the Sørlandet Foundation in 2015, after 4 years hosting the high school Class Afloat on board the Sørlandet. Based on the experiences from Class Afloat, a new high school at sea emerged with an increased focus on the academic program with Advanced Placement courses and deep personal engagement.
The Sørlandet has a long tradition of educational endeavors. Over the past 90 years, the Sørlandet has welcomed more than 10,000 students, providing them with a complete maritime education; teaching them to be navigators, engineers, and seamen. Not only was she the first ship in the world to welcome women to co-ed maritime education, she was also the first sail ship to offer Advanced Placement courses, and the first Nordic training vessel to complete a circumnavigation in 2017. Sørlandet is a living legacy and an historic leader at the forefront of education.
The History of Sørlandet
During his teenage years, Skjelbred studied to become a navigator. He quickly became a deft and practiced ship captain (and later a successful ship-owner). In 1927, the Sørlandet was launched as a school ship constructed with the funds donated by Mr. Skjelbred. Nicknamed “the Pearl of Kristiansand,” after its native city, the Sørlandet is currently the oldest operated fully rigged tall ship in the world.
Convinced by the value and special opportunity that a school at sea would provide to a student´s development, Skjelbred included a special provision for the future use of the Sørlandet. In his last will and testament. There are 4 cornerstone values that guide the educational mission of the school to this day:
- the importance of values and attitudes,
- the importance of practical skills,
- the importance of social skills,
- the importance of theoretical knowledge.
In 1933, without the use of an engine, the Sørlandet crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and travelled all the way to Chicago for the World’s Fair. It was the first fully rigged sailing Ship from Northern Europe to ever navigate through the Great Lakes.
Between 1972 and 1978, the ship was purchased for private use and retired from active duty as a school. It was then re-acquired by Skjelbred’s great-grandson, Kristian, and donated to the city of Kristiansand. The Skjelbred family has thus donated the ship to the city not once, but twice. The city created a new foundation to oversee the operation of the ship. The Foundation´s mission is to own, maintain and operate the tall ship Sørlandet. It is this same foundation, that owns and operates the ship and A+ World Academy. The Foundation receives generous support from the Norwegian Government in recognition of the Ship’s significance to Norway’s maritime heritage.
In 2017 The Sørlandet returned to her home port of Kristiansand after completing the first ever circumnavigation by a Nordic training vessel. On board were 50 students and 7 alumni from A+ World Academy.