High School on a Ship
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Our history

A+ World Academy is a young 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 school at sea emerged with an added focus to the academic program with Advanced Placement courses.

The Sørlandet also has a long tradition of educational endeavours. Over the past 90 years, the Sørlandet has welcomed more than 10,000 students, providing them with a complete marine 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 marine education, she was also the first Nordic training vessel to complete a circumnavigation in 2017. Sørlandet is a living legacy and an historic leader at the forefront of didactic practice.

The History of Sørlandet

The story of the Sørlandet –pronounced “Sur-land-et”— begins with Norwegian philanthropist and ship-owner Oluf Andreas Tollefsen Skjelbred, who was born into a poor family in 1854 and orphaned at a young age.

During his teenage years, Skjelbred studied to become a navigator. He quickly became a deft and practiced ship captain. 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 Ship in the world.

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.

Enamoured of life at sea, and convinced of the value of a maritime education, Skjelbred included a special provision for the future use of the Sørlandet in his last will and testament.

There are 4 cornerstone values outlined in that stipulation that guide the educational mission of the school to this day:

  • The Importance of Values and Attitudes.
  • Understanding Teamwork.
  • The Development of Social Skills.
  • The Pursuit of Knowledge.

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 City created a new Foundation to oversee the operation, maintenance and, most importantly, the mission of the Sørlandet. It is this same foundation, The Sørlandet Foundation, that still 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 in 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.

You can visit the foundation’s website at www.sorlandet.org and on facebook: www.facebook.com/fullriggeren