WJCC Schools Earn $25k Grant for Field Trips to Colonial National Historical Park

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The John Smith statue and the Jamestown Church are both visible from the James River on Sept. 21, 2015. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)
The John Smith statue and the Jamestown Church are sites at the Colonial National Historical Park. (Kirsten Petersen/WYDaily)

Kayaking an estuary of the Chesapeake Bay and exploring the site of the Jamestown colony will be two hands-on, educational experiences WJCC fourth-graders will enjoy next year, thanks to a grant from the National Park Service and the Outdoor Foundation.

The grant, valued at $25,000, will go toward the cost of a half-day kayaking trip via York County-based Chesapeake Experience, half a day on Jamestown Island and transportation for WJCC students, as well as supply bins with items such as clipboards that can benefit all schools that visit the Colonial National Historical Park.

The grant also helps pay for substitutes to come in while teachers create the curriculum to accompany these experiences.

Bonnie Ellis, the WJCC School Division’s coordinator for science, said teachers began brainstorming ideas for a cross-curricular field trip to the National Historical Park last year.

The curriculum, which teachers are still developing, connects experiences on the water and on land with science, history, math and more, Ellis said.

“It’s huge,” Ellis said of the grant. “It’s a chance for us to really step out of our normal, everyday classroom experience and get our kids really interested.”

Students will test out the lessons during field trips to Jamestown Island starting next month. Teachers will modify the lessons if necessary and then post them to the National Park Service website so schools across the country can use them when they visit the park, Ellis said.

She said the goal is to take fourth-graders on the grant-funded trips next spring.

Click here to learn more about the trips, as well as other projects funded by the NPS Challenge Cost Share Program this year.