Ware Academy Named a Virginia Naturally School For Second Year In A Row

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The goal of the program is to recognize the efforts undertaken by Virginia schools that increase environmental awareness and stewardship of its students.

Ware Academy is pleased to announce that for the second year in a row, it was named a Virginia Naturally School. This honor recognizes Ware Academy’s efforts to increase environmental awareness and stewardship of its students during the 2013-2014 academic year. Ware Academy was one of only 52 schools in the state to receive the recognition this year, and one of only two independent schools selected.

Virginia Naturally Schools is the official environmental education school recognition program for the state of Virginia and is administered by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

To earn the Virginia Naturally recognition, Ware Academy had to showcase administrative support for conservation and environmental education programs; high quality professional development that supports integrating conservation and environmental education into the classroom; resource conservation on campus; field and hands on experiences for the students; library and equipment resources dedicated to conservation and environmental education; outdoor classrooms and community support.

Ware Academy’s academic programming includes conservation and environmental learning at all grade levels, from pre-school to middle school.

Among the many programs at Ware Academy that led to the award are the following:

1.    Middle School students participated in an annual weekend excursion trip to Northern Virginia. During the 2013-2014 school year, the sixth grade class assembled two floating turtle platforms for the pond located on the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center property. The manmade pond was lacking sufficient areas for the turtles to bask in the sun and warm their cold-blooded bodies. Without these platforms, the turtles were forced to seek an area to "sunbathe" on the banks of the pond, which made them more susceptible to predation.

2.    Ware Academy's eighth grade class participated in an annual week-long excursion trip exploring the Chesapeake Bay watershed each spring. The class traveled to northern Pennsylvania to explore the headwaters of the Susquehanna River. In conjunction with the USGS Northern Appalachian Research Lab, the class conducted stream surveys and studied the freshwater mussel population. Students gained an understanding of various environmental components within the watershed that contribute to some of the environmental problems in the Chesapeake Bay.

3.    Continuing a project that began last year, students during the 2013-2014 school year monitored the activity of a female wren who inhabited a bluebird station on campus. The entire school community watched via webcam as she built her nest.

4.    As residents of the water rich Tidewater Region, second grade students participated in a field exploration program at a local oyster farm. There, the students examined the importance and contributions of Chesapeake Bay species. Upon returning to the classroom, students were challenged to create and test a water filtration system that would perform as well as the oyster’s natural system that they had observed in the field.

5.    Students and faculty at Ware Academy continued their support of the school-wide recycling program with middle school students also participating in bi-annual roadside cleanup efforts on a main thoroughfare adjacent to Ware Academy.

6.    Students in the Lower School participated in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s annual bay grass restoration project. Students germinated and cultivated wild celery (native submersed aquatic vegetation). The mature plants were then transplanted into a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

Looking forward with the hopes of being selected as a Virginia Naturally School for a third year in a row, the Middle School students have already been exploring various water quality testing components, in addition to, developing an aquaponics based system in the school greenhouse. Teachers in the lower grades are anxious to expose their students to the fundamental components of this system. In order to achieve this goal, teachers have reached out to a local aquaponics farm, which currently employs a variety of systems within their greenhouses to grow produce for local markets and restaurants.

Ware Academy plans to utilize this farm to help educate its students in sustainable agriculture.

Lessons will be devised to enrich the field experience once the students return to the classroom.

Teachers are also planning to expand the amount of native milkweed in the school's educational garden. Students will germinate and maintain milkweed plants throughout the school year. The plants will then be used in monarch conservation efforts, which include rearing monarch caterpillars, monitoring their growth, protecting them through maturity, and releasing them prior to their migration south.

ABOUT WARE ACADEMY:

Located one mile from Main Street in Gloucester’s historic Courthouse district on a 19-acre campus, Ware Academy is a co-ed, independent day school for students in Pre-Kindergarten 3 through eighth grade. Ware Academy empowers each student to achieve academic excellence, emphasizing the development of mind, body and character.

The primary objectives are to educate the whole child to his fullest potential and for students to acquire a respect and a desire for learning in order to develop into independent, life long learners in preparation for productive and fulfilled lives.

Founded in 1949, Ware Academy is a non-profit, non-denominational, non-sectarian school promoting ethnic and racial diversity. Ware Academy selects students on the basis of academic potential and developmental readiness without regard to race, color, creed, or ethnic origin.

Ware Academy is accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, the National Association of Independent Schools, and the Education Records Bureau and the Secondary School Admissions Test Board. Ware Academy is also a member of the National Middle School Association, the National Junior Honor Society and the Association of Supervision in Curriculum Development.

Keep in touch with Ware Academy online at http://www.wareacademy.org, on Facebook at /WareAcademy and on Twitter @WareAcademy1.

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Stephanie Heinatz
Ware Academy
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