With the majestic Chesapeake Bay in the backdrop, leaders from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) as well as special guests, including high school students, gathered Dec. 9 at the Brock Environmental Center to mark the official groundbreaking for the school division’s new Environmental Studies Program classroom.
“I believe that the greatest aspiration that we have as educators is for no student to say, ‘Why am I learning this,”’ said VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence. “And when we create opportunities and programs like these to learn in this place and in this space and to tackle significant challenges, I think that matters. It’s a wonderful opportunity that VBCPS is committed to and I’m appreciative of our School Board for their vision and commitment for stepping forward and saying, ‘Let’s do this; it’s the right thing for our students.’”
Joan Brock, who provided a generous $1.5 million contribution to build the classroom, agreed.
“We are becoming a real hub for environmental study. You look at the environmental center and the work that is being done there. You look at the marina and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center that are doing more and more work, we’ve got a good start on environmental studies. We can be a hub for the whole East Coast.”
But it wasn’t just the adults who see that this classroom could become a leading environmental studies learning facility for K-12 students in the country.
“I’m a student of the 21st century,” Kellam High School junior Caleb Sullivan stated. “I’m one of many who value the principles of environmental science. It is my generation who wants to bring change and the newly-created Environmental Studies program will open doors for students to do just that. I’m grateful to know that such a place will soon become a reality. This is the vision that will take our thinking beyond the classroom. This is learning reinvented.”
For 15 years, VBCPS students have taken field trips to immerse themselves in educational explorations and learn through hands-on investigations about aquatic life, biodiversity, water quality, ecosystems, land use practices and more. This classroom for high school students is yet another building block in their instructional foundation.
The Macon F. and Joan P. Brock classroom is scheduled to welcome its first students in the 2020 – 2021 school year. Up to 50 students from the Class of 2022 will attend the first year with another 50 students added the following year. Applications are available now through Jan. 31 on vbschools.com.
Read past stories about the program and about the division’s other sustainability endeavors by visiting the division’s blog.