Community Partnerships Get Students 'Out in Creation'
A few weeks ago, 2nd Grade students visited the Hickory Campus to learn more about bees by using their five senses and participated in a nature walk to view Covenant's apiary, the bee yard containing the two beehives in the outdoor classroom. They also helped to harvest the honey from the beehives. But, the Hickory Apiary and its success is part of a much bigger story.
Mrs. Gretchen Feury, Science Department Chair, remarked that when she came to Covenant, she felt that the beautiful creation surrounding the school was not being used for learning. "Our department first began with learning about the challenges of "nature-deficit-disorder" that plagues our children today," said Feury. "We began to collectively dream of ways we could engage with creation and inspire our students to spend more time with nature." They "blazed" the trails around campus to get the students out in nature. They then developed the outdoor classroom and a marked tree trail with help from local partnerships with both the Boy Scouts and the Department of Forestry. "We also realized that our students from the Birdwood Campus had experiences with tending gardens and exploring creation through the skills of the tracker science units," said Feury. "Intentionally, we began to focus on ways we could apprentice our students in the care and understanding of creation in all of our science courses and we then developed the 7th grade elective called Out in Creation to solely focus on this endeavor."
Last year, Feury's family traveled to the North Carolina Zoo and were able to observe an educational Bee Hive. Feury's husband, Jared, was very curious as he observed the bee exhibit. He thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for learning and wondered if Covenant had anything like that. "I shared that we had the knowledge base with one of our science teachers, Mrs. Sarah Green, but our department lacked the funding to make it possible," explained Feury. Her husband suggested that Mrs. Green and her class could write a grant application for the community project of bee hives. "Sarah took the time and energy to write a request and it was granted," said Feury. "Bank of the James has the motto 'Bank of the James, where community and banking come together' as Bank of the James is continuously interested in helping to make a difference in our community. We have been continuously blessed by local partners," remarked Feury. Covenant was also recently granted funding from Piedmont Master Gardeners for pollinator plants to attract bees and butterflies to the Hickory Campus.
"The science department is not done dreaming," said Feury. "We still have visions of future trails to encircle our campus, bird boxes for examination and understanding of birds, lean-to fort structures for observation of nature, and wetland walkways to allow for watershed learning." Feury remarked that God has blessed us with the gift of creation that surrounds us, quoting Psalm 19: 1: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands". "May we all continue to honor His work by getting out into creation," said Feury.
Located in Charlottesville, VA, The Covenant School is a non-denominational, private, Christian day school for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, visual and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.