Press Releases

Press Releases, 2012-2013

Promoting Social Ethics in Early Childhood

Social Ethics

Children are sponges, readily soaking up and mimicking behaviors all around them. How can parents ensure that they're picking up good habits and learning to be caring, ethical people in those all-important formative years? The answer is easy- by rooting them in a school community that prizes character development and promotes a common code of conduct in which students are guided to act with integrity. “That means completely enveloping little ones in an environment that is loving, absolutely full of joy, and committed to character development,” notes Chesapeake Academy Pre-K 3 & 4 teacher and Early Childhood Director, Elizabeth Clark. It sounds simple, but having the ability to view the world from the eyes of a three-year old, while recognizing and seizing upon on teachable moments, takes the skills of a trained professional.

Deeply embedded in the philosophy of Chesapeake Academy is a long-standing and successful social and ethical curriculum that places high value on honor, friendship-building, responsibility, and self-control- things that build a community of trust- which is taught from a student's first days of school through their graduation as leaders in eighth grade. Early childhood students are guided to build skills as both independent and interdependent learners, all the while adhering to a system of discipline that reinforces positive behaviors and teaches young students to make good decisions for themselves and the larger group. “We have many shared beliefs in our classroom, one of which is to acknowledge mistakes and promote forgiveness, for it's how we all learn.” notes Clark. Harmonious working relationships between teachers, students, and parents is not just a goal, it's a basic tenant of Chesapeake's program. “Even during circle time, we adjust our bodies so that knees are touching and everybody is in,” explains Clark, who both loves and values her role as a “social engineer.”

Creating a constructive school community means finding ways that young children can take initiative. Manners matter as does internalizing the importance of taking on individual responsibilities that benefit the common good. “Holding doors, policing trash, leading the line from point A to point B, or being the class encourager, comforter, or complimenter are all ways early childhood students can contribute,” notes Kenzie Manetz, Chesapeake Academy kindergarten teacher. “At Chesapeake, we honestly don't believe in the law of the herd. We do believe that even at a young age, children can contribute to creating communities that are peaceful, collaborative, and beautifully cooperative,” adds Clark. “We have an understanding that no one gets hurt with words or hands, but if so, we make amends,” she adds. Clark believes that teaching young students tolerance- respect for individual differences- is indeed a challenging and ongoing task, but one with innumerable rewards.

Early childhood teachers, Clark and Manetz, provide their young charges with a multitude of opportunities to share their spirit of giving and kindness and put thoughtfulness into practice. “Through roll play, class meetings, examples from time-honored children's literature, and modeling, we hope to see children thinking of others and their behavior in the classroom as well as with siblings and parents at home,” said Manetz. Kind acts are rewarded and character education includes helping children understand the needs of other children- not just learning but practicing different ways they can be helpful. “The more positive behaviors you put into practice- those centered around fairness, kindness, inclusion, and citizenship- the more coaching can be about teaching really good decision making,” notes Clark. Chesapeake Academy's older students in Lower and Middle School are an important part of the process. They serve as mentors, role models, and classroom buddies to the younger students, who are incorporated into the school community through art, music, P.E., recess, Spanish, bi-weekly assemblies, and all-school winter and spring performances.

Deeply embedded in Chesapeake's philosophy is the school's intention to create and maintain a climate in which children learn best. “Children don't necessarily come with requisite character skills, so we teach and model these skills in order to maintain the positive and productive character of our community,” explains Academic Dean, Julie Keesee. Twenty-first century skill building starts solidly in Pre-K 3 & 4 where collaboration, communication, creative and critical thinking are introduced and honed through silly and serious play, circle-time instruction, and small group interactions that incorporate music, dance, fine and gross motor skills, storytelling, and problem solving.

For more information on Chesapeake Academy's Early Childhood Program, contact Admission Director Hilary Scott at or 804 438-5575. Chesapeake Academy is a fully accredited member of the Virginia Association of Independence Schools (VAIS) and both its Preschool and Extended Day Program is licensed by the Virginia Department of Social Services. Chesapeake Academy admits students of any race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally made available to students at the school.

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Technology at Chesapeake Academy

Leaping into the 21st century can be quite fun! With the acquisition of 60 student and teacher MacBook laptops in 2009, Smartboards in 2010, LCD projects in every classroom in 2011, and an additional 20 iPads loaded with educational apps in 2012, Chesapeake Academy has successfully mainstreamed technology as an essential and daily part of instructional practices. Whether it be kindergartners using CAD (computer aided design) to design a 3-D home for Fluffy, the class hamster, Lower School student teams using iMovie to decode auditory clips to solve the March Mystery Month mystery, Middle School Writer’s Workshop students using Google Docs to share and peer edit persuasive essays, or Pre-Algebra students using Google Sketch-Up to apply proportional knowledge and geometry lessons to the designing of playgrounds, use of up-to-date technology has allowed collaboration and creativity to flourish at Chesapeake.

Technology at CA

With the placement of recharging carts hosting 20 MacBook laptops each in both Lower and Middle School, the school shifted permanently from using fixed computer lab settings to portable technology, which better supports Chesapeake’s commitment to differentiated instruction and 21st century skill. “Without a doubt, technology enhances our teacher’s ability to meet each student’s needs by providing opportunities for individualized instruction and a variety of learning modes to different learners,” explains Academic Dean Julie Keesee. “The students, of course, took to the new technology like ducks to water,” she adds, emphasizing students’ innate ability to make the most of alternative ways of absorbing, interpreting, and presenting core lessons. Just weeks into the school year, Mrs. Antonio’s third graders used the MacBook’s installed Photo Booth to document themselves with visiting grandparents, creating “About the Author” pages to illustrate literature summaries of favorite books. Teaching striving to empower students to take more ownership of their learning, find both the MacBooks and iPads ideal supplementary tools for both guided and independent student learning. “By integrating computers into the classroom on a daily basis, students can work in stations at a pace that best meets their needs,” notes second grade teacher, Martha Rogers.

Improvements to the school’s hardware systems were a major contributor to technology’s successful integration across the curriculum. In 2010, Chesapeake installed a new server and a dedicated cable internet line, which increased bandwidth for greater speed and reliability of the network, and added a variety of technology support accessories to each classroom and division, including interactive Smartboards, Flip cameras, and LCD projectors. “When the school issued an LCD player to every classroom- that was a life-changing moment for me as a teacher,” noted Advanced Geography teacher, Julia Zimmerman. LCD projectors allow teachers and students to project websites, movies, images, powerpoints, and projects from their labtops or iPads onto a white board for communal viewing. “The opportunities for collaboration and discussion grew exponentially, especially with regard to real world application of concepts discussed in class,” she adds. When, for example, students questioned the differences in energy use between developed and developing countries, Zimmerman projected an interactive National Geographic map that contrasted lights at night with cities with populations of over one million. “The brightest spots were along the coasts of North America, Europe, and China with major dark zones in Africa, southeast Asia, and particularly North Korea. The map spoke volumes to the kids,” she explains.

A key component to integrating technology seamlessly across all divisions was the school-wide creation and implementation of a sequenced technology curriculum, which guides student from Pre-K 3 & 4 to grade eight to develop skills in five basic areas: computer functionality, creative applications, collaborative applications, research skills, and the safe and ethical use of technology.

In Early Childhood, students use the MacBook laptops adapted for younger users with large mice and keyboards. Learning basic computer operations, kindergartners and Pre-K 3 & 4 year olds integrate the MacBooks daily into school life- playing games, listening to audiobooks, recording themselves dictating new vocabulary, practicing burgeoning math skills. PebbleGo, an award-winning database for emerging readers that features earth science is a big hit with students enamored with dinosaurs, volcanoes, furry mammals, and space.

In Lower School, teachers use computers to engage students in logical thinking games, for individualized station work, presentations, audiobooks, online activities, games, and for video or audio recording of student work. “Practicing multiplication tables by jumping frogs on lily pads tends to be a whole lot more engaging and fun for third graders than sheer repetition on paper,” notes Antonio, emphasizing the integration of both methods for successful mastery. Students use Photobooth, iPhoto, iMovie, Pages, and Keynote for presentations in language arts, science, and social studies as well as the mindmapping software Kidspiration and Inspiration to organize information prior to writing. For example, fourth grade students used Fotopedia, a photo encyclopedia iPad app featuring links to over 700,00 images, to examine modern pictures of places they are studying in Ancient World History while simultaneously accessing an interactive map on the MacBooks to identify the photos location in the world. Across the board, Lower School students are guided to navigate the internet to find accurate information in support of their classroom instruction. Additionally, Chesapeake’s online subscription to Defined STEM, a program that allows students to apply concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math in simulated real-world scenarios, not only enhances science and math instruction but inspires students’ projects.

In the Middle School, writing students use collaborative software through Google Docs for writing, editing, and sharing their work, all the while developing more sophisticated note taking and organizational skills using Inspiration and Evernote software. Across the curriculum, teachers design projects that require students to gain mastery of a variety of new applications, such as Google SketchUp for three-dimensional planning or GarageBand to embed or create their own musical accompaniment. Math students use the textbook website,, to take practices quizzes and tests and to test skills and show mastery of concepts presented. Eighth grade Algebra 1 students are introduced to the TI-83 Plus graphing calculator in preparation for future math and science courses in high school. In health class, eighth graders are using the iPads to create commercials replicating strategies used by businesses marketing specifically to teens, and several grades use the website EverFi to introduce skills and knowledge in personal finance. Middle School advisory groups used Animoto, a short film-making software, to create public service announcements to promote the elimination of the R-word to supplement the school’s basketball fundraiser for Special Olympics. Using the video recording features of the iPads, sixth grade Advanced Geography students recorded a play they wrote illustrating the history of India, from the invasion of the Aryans to its partition from Pakistan, in ten storyboarded events.

During Activity Period, once a week activities led by teachers with a passion for a particular subject outside of the curriculum, technology is featured through project experimentation with digital photography, GarageBand instruction, and movie making. Regardless of the technology usage, ethical use and safety have been emphasized and reinforced by teachers, and students sign user agreements that are tied into the school’s Honor Code.

Strategic investment in technology has been a priority at Chesapeake, and it shows. Significant fundraising has enabled computers, Smartboards, projectors, and digital recording devices to be integrated daily into instructional practices, which has transformed teaching practices and student usage in ways that support the school’s commitment to 21st century skill building. Creative funding has also been helpful. Chesapeake’s first major leap came about as the result of a “Fund-an-Item” added to the school’s annual auction. Auction participants bid not to win a specific item for themselves but to fund the school’s initiative to add fully loaded MacBook laptop carts to each elementary division. “The generosity of our parents, grandparents, and friends in the community has been inspirational and life-changing for the school,” notes Head of School Debbie Cook. “People understand the need and want to be supportive of our initiatives to prepare students for their roles in the 21st century,” she adds. The school’s most recent technological additions, the 20 iPads with app subscriptions, came about as a donation to honor Irvington resident and long-time Chesapeake Academy supporter, Kit Monroe. To learn more about Chesapeake Academy’s integration of technology across the curriculum in Pre-K 3 & 4 to Grade Eight, contact Julie Keesee, Academic Dean at or 804 438-5575.

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Activity Period at Chesapeake

In a school where intellectual curiosity is valued, it’s essential to have teachers who model their love of learning both in and outside the classroom. Each week, Chesapeake Academy teachers offer students in grades three to eight a variety of Activity Period choices that expose students to new experiences in a fun and productive way. Whether it be a passion for international cooking, magic, drama, movie-making, warfare, knitting, Spanish, or fashion, Activity Period offerings let students in mixed age groups engage creatively with each other and their teachers while building stronger relationships that are based on shared interests.

War Games

Just weeks into the third marking period, students in Ms. Julia Zimmerman and Ms. Kim Dynia’s War Games class have survived a variety of competitions and challenges designed to get them thinking about any one of the following: strategy, subterfuge, the strengths and weaknesses of one’s opponents, alliances, and the benefits of camouflage. “We played chess, designed camouflage outfits, ran obstacle courses with and without team support, worked in alliances to disable our enemies by popping balloons tied to their ankles- you name it, we tried it,” noted Dynia, whose final challenge to the 14 member mixed-gender group was an all-out, no boundaries Nurf war. “It was fun to see how differently girls react than boys when it comes to team challenges,” said eighth grader Harley Haydon. “Girls tend to encourage each other, saying things like ‘you can do it, come on, keep trying’ while boys seem to be 100% noise and action,” she noted. For fifth grader Braxton Gallagher, attempting to negotiate “enemy territory” with a group of boys ranging from ages seven to twelve, a highlight was realizing that “you really couldn’t know how things would turn out until the very end. You had to always give it your best,” he concluded.

Equally challenging and rewarding was the Scavenger Hunt activity class offered by Academic Dean, Julia Keesee, who armed her mixed-aged student teams with iPads. Student had to locate and scan QR codes strategically placed around the campus that unveiled riddles and problem solving challenges. The Scavenger Hunt was difficult but fit right in with the goals of the Activity Period offerings: to spark student interest and teach skills in areas outside of the typical classroom curriculum.

Students in Mrs. Sonja’s Smith’s International Foods class learned to relate food to culture and geography by creating a variety of meals from different countries. Using their already honed measuring and direction-following skills, student made kabobs with locally procured venison, which was a big hit. Both meals required the students and Mrs. Smith to use new techniques and less familiar ingredients. Mrs. Smith also led the inaugural “Project Osprey” Activity Period that brought a bevy of girls together in the art room for creative clothing design and construction using a variety of materials. “The girls worked beautifully together, especially the older ones with the younger ones, helping them learn to sew, bead, take measurements, and make a pattern,” Smith explained.

Students involved in the Community Service group worked with 4th and 5th grade teacher Kelsey Herman to complete tasks that were meaningful to members of the local community. “We read to the YMCA preschool class, sorted food at the local food bank, and picked up trash around our campus,” explained fifth grader Chas Faulkner, who liked being in the role of big brother to the younger students. Referring to the group’s time at the Food Bank, Chas commented, “It was neat to see how much food gets donated and how important it is to the community.” For Mrs. Herman, the experience was equally rewarding. “I loved watching students come to life as they helped others. Working with or for people really makes the kids ‘tick’. They put their hearts into everything they do, and it is a beautiful thing to be a part of,” she said.

Avid photographer and CA science teacher, Paul McAllister, enjoyed sharing his knowledge of lighting and composition with students interested in refining their skills in portrait and still life photography. One thing revealed after the six week course: “Girls are much more interested in taking photos of small details while boys tend to enjoy capturing the bigger picture,” he noted. Mr. McAllister also led an Activity Period class titled “Junk Box” that gave students the opportunity to take a random assortment of household junk and work collaboratively to complete design challenges. Favorite projects included the construction of bridges, marshmallow shooters, and balloon powered cars.

Equally engaging was the Games Activity Period offered by math teacher, Mr. Ted Cook. Playing in mixed-age groups, students challenged each other in Boggle, Rummikub, Blokus, Skip-Bo, Jenga, Dominoes, Mancala, and Scrabble. While to the kids the purpose seemed to simply have fun, Mr. Cook thoroughly enjoyed the “hidden” rewards of the weekly gathering: honing student skills in strategy, visual perception, geometry, and dexterity.
Of great interest to students of both genders and grades was Mrs. Dynia’ Volcanoes activity class. Starting with models made of mashed potatoes, students experimented with different types of eruptions using a variety of ingredients like Mentos, diet coke, vinegar, baking soda, and elephant toothpaste. Being that Mrs. D’s passion is Ancient History, students were tasked to design and construct models of mountains with historically-recorded eruptions such as Vesuvius and Mount St. Helens. “I loved seeing students work through problems,” noted Mrs. Dynia. “If a tested eruption didn’t work as planned, they had to figure out how to change the shape of their mountain or the proportions of their chemistry in order to make it work the way they wanted to.”

Mrs. Beth Somers and Mrs. Kelly Antonio teamed up to offer a Drama activity class, taking advantage of the time allotted in the weekly schedule to prepare 17 students ranging in ages from 8 to 12 for their roles in the Christmas musical presented at the school’s Holiday Program of Lessons and Carols. Students helped with props, costumes, and, of course, drama and singing. Mrs. Somers also led a Tone Chimes activity class, allowing students in grades 3 to 8 to collaborate on a few songs. Normally students at Chesapeake aren’t trained on the tone chimes until sixth grade, so this was a huge boon for the younger kids as well as a golden opportunity for the older kids to serve as patient mentors.

Students who love working with younger students also love participating in the Classroom Buddies activity class where they serve as assistants to teachers in pre-k 3 & 4, kindergarten, and first grade. Guided by Zimmerman and McAllister, classroom buddies lead younger students in small group math and language games and reading and story telling activities to hone their younger charges’ skills and confidence. Classroom Buddies thrive as mentors for their early childhood counterparts. “It’s just so much fun,” notes third grader Carolyn Stinson, who enjoys serving as a reading buddy best.
Activity Period subjects change with each marking period, which gives students a chance to experience a wider variety of interests and interact with a cross-curricular variety of teachers. For many CA teachers, a favorite outcome of Activity Period is the dialogue that ensues between students discharged from their activities as they meet again in the hallways- sharing interests they never knew others had as well as surprising new experiences. For both teachers and students, it’s a rewarding chance to journey outside the curriculum to explore topics together.

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Hoops to Help

Chesapeake Academy is hosting “Hoops to Help,” on Saturday, March 23, a local kid-driven fundraiser to help raise funds for our community Special Olympics. Anyone ages 3 to 99 in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula is encouraged to participate, especially those with a love for the sport of basketball. Chesapeake initiated the “Hoops to Help” fundraiser when it came to the school's attention that programs for local Special Olympic athletes were underfunded. “This is kids helping kids,” summarizes event organizer, Cynthia Walker, CA Athletic Director. The Special Olympics of Virginia's mission is to provide year-round athletic competitions for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Registration and sponsorship forms can be downloaded here.

Hoops to Help

One key exciting aspect of the event is the $1,000 point challenge sponsored by Chesapeake Bank. Here's how it works: registered players get friends, family, and/or co-workers to sponsor them for a set amount of money, such as $5, $10, or $20. They arrive at the school's gymnasium on Saturday, March 23, and shoot hoops for five minutes in a designated time slot. Participants tally the number of baskets made and points earned, and then add their point scores to an overall group count. If (and when) the group point count reaches 1,000, Chesapeake Bank will contribute an additional $1,000 in support of the fundraiser. Cash and check donations will be accepted at anytime during the event, concessions will be available with proceeds to support our local Special Olympic athletes, and scheduled March Madness NCAA basketball games will be streamed live throughout the event.

For additional information or specific details about participant time-slots, please call the school at (804 438-5575) or access the registration and sponsorship forms at the link above. All sponsorship checks should be made out to SOVA Area 28.

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Discovery Days, March 23

Chesapeake Academy is hosting the final of three free “Discovery Days” on Saturday, March 23, as a means to bring early childhood and elementary school families together with enriching age-appropriate, hands-on activities centered on popular children’s literature or a specific theme. Space is limited so families are encouraged to register early by calling the school at 804 438-5575.

Discovery Days

March's Discovery Day theme is centered around animal habitats and adaptations and is focused on the Anne Mazer’s book, The Salamander Room, a funny, poetic fantasy spun from a small boy's daydream about making a home for the salamander he has found in the woods. Mazer's nature lessons are subtly embedded in the story, and the book’s illustrations shimmer with intense colors. Activities geared for students ages 4 to 7 will include teacher-based art, science, literature, music and movement activities, as well as theatrical retellings of the story and cooperative mathematical games. With guidance, children will be challenged to solve fun critical thinking problems and then design and built habitats that address the needs of real and fanciful creatures.

Discovery Days are sponsored by the Early Childhood and Lower School teachers at Chesapeake Academy and are open and free to all families in our community. They’re guaranteed to be a fun and memorable way to spend a winter morning with your child in a warm classroom environment in the company of other children and families. For additional information or to reserve a space for your child to attend the Discovery Day event on Saturday, March 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., please call Chesapeake Academy at 804 438-5575.

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Discovery Days at Chesapeake Academy

Looking for a creative hands-on experience for your child on a Saturday morning? Chesapeake Academy is hosting the second of three free “Discovery Days” on Saturday, February 23, as a means to bring early childhood and elementary school families in our community together with enriching age-appropriate activities centered on popular children’s literature or a specific theme. Space is limited so families are encouraged to register early by calling the school at 804 438-5575.

Discovery Days

February's Discovery Day theme is centered around growth and change and is focused on the book, A House for Hermit Crab, by Eric Carle, a classic underseas fiction story. Activities geared for students ages 4 to 7 will include teacher-based art, science, literature, music and movement activities centered on the Carle’s heart-warming story describing what a crab must do when he outgrows his shell. While adaptation is the book’s overall adult theme, children will be guided to a much more simple understanding of the exciting nature of change with retellings of the story through theatrical reenactments and fun and cooperative mathematical games that teach sizing and sequencing, and charting.

Discovery Days are sponsored by the Early Childhood and Lower School teachers at Chesapeake Academy and are open and free to all families in our community. They’re guaranteed to be a fun and memorable way to spend a winter morning with your child in a warm classroom environment in the company of other children and families. For additional information or to reserve a space for your child to attend the Discovery Day event on Saturday, February 23, please call Chesapeake Academy at 804 438-5575. Chesapeake Academy's final Discovery Day will be held on Saturday, March 23, 2013.

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Students Apply Geometry Skills to Gardens

Geometry Gardens

According to Chesapeake Academy fifth grade mathematicians, gardens come in all shapes and sizes and they lend themselves quite beautifully to the study of geometry. Tasked with designing a unique 4x4 foot garden using their knowledge of squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, and in particular, the combination of these shapes into irregular ones, students began the project by applying their knowledge of three different formulas to find perimeter and area- a primary objective of the assignment.

“Application of math skills to real world situations has a huge impact on students,” notes Chesapeake Academy fourth grader teacher, Kelsey Herman. Although the idea of designing gardens came from her students after viewing a video featuring botanical garden designers in Chicago, Illinois, Herman helped weave the curricular goals of the unit into a project that really inspired her budding mathematicians.

Students combined shapes to create practical pathways, platforms for fountains, and flower and shrubbery beds while calculating perimeter and area of each structure to confirm their fit within the designated 4x4 foot imaginary plot of land. Designs could be symmetrical or asymmetrical. Students put thought into the types of flowers to use, materials for walkways, and fountain design, as well as meeting the math requirement. They also included the addition of a picket fence around the perimeter of the garden and a color or spatial theme that reflected school spirit. “One thing I loved about the project was that everyone started with the same materials and criteria, yet no two projects were alike,” commented Herman. Fifth grader Juliet “Z” Green, of Heathsville, inspired to design a garden with aesthetic and practical appeal, incorporated shade trees and a small stream within her fenced perimeter. Classmate Hunter Purcell, of Hardyville used holly hedges as a decorative perimeter around each of his flower beds and included an underground irrigation system. Another student, Will Stinson, of Irvington, made his entire flower garden in the shape of school’s logo- a Times New Roman “CA.”

With designs complete, each student was then tasked with presenting their approved gardens in one of three formats: as a three-dimensional scale model, as a drawing, or incorporated into a television advertisement. Students put their final projects on display in the library and were given the opportunity to share their design concepts and challenges with an interactive audience of peers and faculty members. The winning design, an English-inspired X-shaped symmetrical garden with a central fountain designed by fifth grader, Claire Keesee, of Christchurch, was selected by a committee of voting faculty.

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RAL and CA Winter Art Classes for Students

Chesapeake Academy and the Rappahannock ArtLeague (RAL) are collaborating once again to offer their highly successful, creative series of Saturday art classes for young artistsages five to fourteen. Now firmly a Saturday tradition during the winter month of January, this year’s Saturday workshops for students in Lancaster, Northumberland, Middlesex, and Richmond Counties will highlight techniques of drawing and paper collage.

RAL Winter Art Classes

Instructor Marilyn Sprouse, art teacher for Lancaster Middle School, will teach a four- week workshop entitled “Super Draw” to students in grades one to eight on consecutive Saturday afternoons starting on January 19, 2013, and ending on February 9, from noon until 2 p.m. This is just the class for students who love to draw and are interested in adding special techniques to their artist “toolbox.” Practicing drawing and inking, students will experiment with perspective, movement, and illusion in different mediums such as Japanese-style cartoon characters while being encouraged to question the creative process and different mediums.

Instructor Sonja Smith, art teacher for Chesapeake Academy, will teach a four-week workshop entitled “Paper Adventures” for students in grades one to eight on the same consecutive Saturday mornings starting on January 19, 2013, and ending on February 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Smith’s workshop will challenge artists who love to work with their hands, and particularly those who love to manipulate paper in many forms. Students will create cut and torn paper collage, 3-D collage, decoupage, and make paper masks and sculpture using different types of paper including tissue, vellum, type, watercolor, stock, and upcycled paper.

The RAL and Chesapeake Academy Art Workshops are designed to bring together students from different schools with diverse artbackgrounds and perspectives. “It should be highly rewarding to see kids express themselves both visually and verbally, and use design principals to help understand and create art,” noted Chesapeake Academy art teacher Sonja Smith, who sees the program as a creative alternative to playing indoor sports or watching TV on cold winter mornings in our rural community. The Rappahannock ArtLeague’s purpose- to sponsor and encourage educational and cultural activities in the visual arts in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, meshes wonderfully with Chesapeake Academy’s goal to provide enrichment activities to students that promote creativity, confidence, excellence, and love of learning.

Workshops are $50 per student, which includes supplies. Class size is limited and space is available on a first come, first served basis. The RAL has generously offered tuition subsidies on request from students with recommendations from their art teachers. For more information on tuition scholarships, please contact the RAL at 804 436-9309 or send an email to For general information about the Art Workshops and to request a registration form, please contact Sonja Smith at 804 438-5575

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Discovery Days at Chesapeake Academy

Looking for a fun and creative hands-on experience for your child on a cold Saturday winter morning? Chesapeake Academy is hosting three “Discovery Days” this winter as a means to bring early childhood and elementary school families in our community together with enriching age-appropriate art, science, math, movement and music activities centered around popular children’s literature or a specific theme. Discovery Days are free and guaranteed to be a fun and memorable way to spend a winter morning with your child in a warm classroom environment in the company of other children and families. Space is limited so families are encouraged to register early by calling the school at 804 438-5575.

Discovery Days

Chesapeake Academy’s first Discovery Day on Saturday, January 26, is designed as a playful introduction to maps and geography and will feature activities centered around the book, Me on the Map, by Joan Sweeney. The story features a girl who, step by simple step, shows young readers herself on a map of her room, her room on the map of her house, her house on the map of her street--all the way to her country on a map of the world. She demonstrates how readers can find their own country, state, and town--all the way back to their room. “I really love this book, not only because of the simple text and beautiful artwork, but because of the story’s lesson- that everyone has their special place on the map,” notes Chesapeake Academy first grade teacher Molly Vanderpool. “It really gets kids looking for details on maps and gets them thinking about their place in the world,” she adds. January’s Discovery Day morning will feature teacher-guided fun, engaging, and age-appropriate activities centered around Me on the Map for children ages four to seven years old.

Chesapeake Academy will host two additional free Discovery Days this winter. Exploring how our bodies grow and change using A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle will be the focus of Chesapeake’s second Discovery Day on Saturday, February 23, and understanding animals and their habitats using The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer will be the focus of the final Discovery Day on Saturday, March 23. All Discovery Days are for children ages 4 to 7 and are held at the school campus in Irvington from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Discovery Days are sponsored by the Early Childhood and Lower School teachers at Chesapeake Academy and the Wiley Foundation and are open and free to all families in our community. For additional information or to reserve a space for your child to attend any or all Discovery Day events, please call Chesapeake Academy at 804 438-5575. Space is limited so please register early.

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CA's Holiday Program of Lessons and Carols

Lessons and Carols

Celebrating Christmas- the belief in our hearts- was the theme of Chesapeake Academy’s “Holiday Program of Lessons and Carols” held last Wednesday to an appreciative audience of parents, grandparents and friends in the community. Directed by music teacher Beth Somers, the morning program began with a procession of students accompanied by an audience singing of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and continued with a mix of spirited holiday songs and student readings representing faith, joy, and hope in the Christmas season.

Setting the tone for the program were the three and four year olds, who sang a joyful rendition of “Gather ‘Round the Christmas Tree.” Then, kindergartner drummers took to the stage and sang “Pat a Pan.” Third grade recorder students performed an a cappella version of “Jingle Bells,” followed by fourth grade recorder student playing “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.” The sixth grade Tone Chimes Choir performed “Hark the Herald” followed by “We Three Kings” by the seventh and eighth grade Tone Chimes Choir. Everybody joined in for a somber yet uplifting chorus of “Silent Night,” accompanied by guitar students Millie Tompkins, Harrison Tompkins, Lily Reihs, Elijah Green, Avery Shivers, and their guitar instructor, Bailey Horsley.

The program took a lighthearted turn with the performance of the musical drama “The Littlest Reindeer,” directed by teachers Kelly Antonio and Beth Somers, which featured choreographed dance moves and songs by students in grades one through four. Chesapeake’s Holiday Program of Lessons and Carols concluded with closing remarks by Head of School Deborah Cook and the recessional of students. “The lessons heard spoken, sung, and played by the students today are important reminders that we should keep Christmas in our hearts 365 days a year,” noted Cook.

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Chesapeake Academy Eighth Grade Rube Goldberg Simple Machines Projects

Chesapeake Academy eighth graders are honoring Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor and author, Rube Goldberg by designing and creating a complex machine as part of their physical science study. Goldberg, a trained engineer, was famous for his “inventions” which satirized new technology and gadgets of the day. His name became synonymous with any complex program or system that’s end result is the production of a simple task.

Rube Goldberg Machines

Science teacher Paul McAllister entered the eighth grade class into the National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest and instructed his students to build their machine using all six of the simple machines with special attention to the transfer of energy. The task for the 2013 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is to hammer a nail. The guidelines for the contest suggest teams to work backwards from the final task to the beginning, where the machine is initially set into motion.

Eighth grade’s machine, while still in production, currently includes a pulley, lever, wedge, and inclined plane. Their finished machine must include ten steps to accomplish the task- hammering a nail- and its run time cannot exceed two minutes. “A huge challenge of the project is getting multiple components to work together to complete the task while attempting to meet the other judging criteria, such as how well a theme is carried into the machine, how funny it is, or how much variety in mechanisms, energy forms, and materials exist in the steps,” explained McAllister.

Eighth grade’s Rube Goldberg machine currently begins with the back and forth movement of a saw, that releases a wedge, that starts a ball rolling down an inclined plane to a weighted pulley system. From there, the intention is to activate a second trigger that starts a second ball rolling on a perpendicular inclined plane to, what will eventually be, a hammer poised on a rotating axis. One of the biggest challenges the class faces is working as a team. “We don’t always agree on every idea,” noted eighth grader Tyler Dunaway. Included in the contest requirements is the student creation of a diagram and written description of the steps.

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VAULT Financial Literacy at CA

It’s never too soon to teach children about finances and making good financial decisions. Acting on that premise, fourth and fifth grade students at Chesapeake Academy have completed an online financial literacy program called VAULT made available to them through a grant from Chesapeake Bank. Working at their own pace in an interactive, virtual world, students learned about critical financial concepts such as saving, borrowing, investing, and the accompanying vocabulary, as well as how to apply those concepts to their everyday life.

VAULT Financial Literacy

“VAULT really gets our students thinking in the long-term. What are their financial goals in life? How can they, at age 11, begin to make those goals happen?” explains Chesapeake Academy Math teacher Kelsey Herman. After completing the VAULT program, fifth grader Lily Reihs initiated a conversation at home about her family’s saving plan for college. “I asked my mom her advice on starting a savings account and whether it’s better to invest in stocks or bonds,” says Reihs, who now wants her birthday cash and the money she gets on occasion working at her grandparent’s bakery to benefit her future.

“None of it is paper and pencil math. It’s complete application,” notes Herman. Through self-paced units and games with built-in incentives, students learned the importance of money, how to earn money, and how to make wise choices for using money. “It helps us learn about saving and being wise with our spending,” explains fifth grader, Clair Keesee, who has created a four-year plan for acquiring a go cart by funneling her chore money into savings.

VAULT’s lessons on money, percentages, and interest integrate nicely with the Academy’s 4th and 5th grade math curriculum. Lessons can easily be applied to issues students are learning about in today’s news, such as the presidential election. “I learned a lot about the different types of taxes, what taxes are used for, and a little about what it involves to be a grown-up,” says fifth grader Colette Haynie. “It seems like there are taxes on everything- income, our house, the things we buy. It makes me aware of what my parents have to pay and how I can help,” she says, adding her understanding of the basics of state and national finances: “When our government needs more money, taxes go up. When they don’t need as much money, taxes go down.”

Of course, there are added benefits to the VAULT program, such as it’s emphasis on teaching young students the difference between wants and needs. “I need a new sweatshirt for winter. I also want a new watch, but that’s something that I don’t really need, so I’ll probably buy the sweatshirt,” explains fifth grader Harrison Tompkins. Understanding the difference between wants and needs helps maturing children decide whether it is best to spend, save, or invest their own funds. Both Herman and Chesapeake Bank, who sponsors the program, believe that learning basic financial concepts early on will help students integrate good financial habits into their everyday lives, thus, making it easier to continue those good habits into adulthood.

Fifth grader Leighten McCranie’s take away from the program was simple: choose a profession in life that you have a passion for. “Taking care of others is important to me, so I’m planning my future so I can become a doctor,” she explains. In addition to the financial basics lessons, VAULT contains a section about internet safety including how to protect a student’s online identity. After completing the program, fifth grader Will Stinson understands that providing personal information like an address or computer passwords while emailing can being risky. ‘You have to be really careful who you give private information to. A doctor’s office is OK but email is not,” advises Stinson. “Being risky with your personal data is like riding your bicycle without a helmet,” summarizes classmate Tompkins.

As a follow-up activity to the 2.5 hour VAULT online curriculum, 4th and 5th graders created a skit to present to visiting grandparents and friends that sums up the main concepts of the program.

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Chesapeake Academy Middle School Honor Code

Being part of a community of honor is an essential part of the Middle School experience at Chesapeake Academy. Following discussion in advisory groups on the ways that honor is displayed on a daily basis in school- during tests, on the athletic field, in peer and teacher relationships, when conducting internet research, and with regard to school and personal property, students are directed by student council officers to queue up to sign the school’s Honor Code. For fifth graders, it’s an important initiation to Middle School. By signing the official Honor Code, a large document displayed prominently in the Middle School hallway, students in grades five through eight are acknowledging their understanding of the principles guiding the code as well their commitment to upholding its promise.

Honor Code

The Honor Code reads, “Chesapeake Academy students will uphold the truth, respect others and their property, and maintain academic integrity.” It is designed to promote honesty, respect, citizenship, and integrity within the student community. The official signing ceremony is a solemn endeavor so that students can truly reflect on what they are putting their name to. “When students step up to sign it means they understand what they are signing with respect to their school community, and that they embrace the code with their whole hearts and minds,” noted Academic Dean Julie Keesee.

Student Council members, who signs the Honor Code first, are tasked with promoting and explaining the Honor Code to their peers in Middle School throughout the year. “The Honor Code is a social contract, which we’re learning about in our Government class. It helps us trust each other,” said Student Council President Harley Haydon. Chesapeake’s Honor Code applies to all aspects of the school community- governing all academic work as well as athletic competition. “Honor is something we agree to as a school community,” Haydon added. While Lower School students are not required to sign the Honor Code, developing a strong understanding of its principles is an integral part of their school experience.

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2012 Convocation

Chesapeake Academy began its 47th school year with Convocation, an assembly for students, parents and faculty designed to commemorate the beginning of school and promote involvement in all aspects of school life. Prior to the official opening of school, alumni parents, board members, and friends in the community joined the assembled students and faculty outside the gymnasium for a ribbon cutting ceremony and an unveiling of the Academy’s new state-of-the-art gym floor. Gratitude was extended to the many donors who made this dream a reality.

Board of Trustees Chair Robert “Bo” Bragg, IV led the program by welcoming Pre-Kindergartner 3&4 through grade eight students to the 2012-2013 academic year, encouraging each to plan for personal and academic successes while keeping this year’s theme of community and specifically, common purpose, in the forefront of their actions. Bragg stressed the importance of volunteerism in all aspects of the school community, paying homage to those who work tirelessly, oftentimes behind the scenes, to benefit the school. “At Chesapeake, community effort starts with the students who make a conscious decision to help make their school a better place.  You can see it in their desire to serve on student council, in their willingness to help younger school mates, and in even in their direct efforts to bolster annual fund giving,” he noted. “It is difficult to imagine a more powerful team than school, parents, and volunteers working together for the good of children,” he added. Bragg’s message was reiterated by CAPPA President Chris Cammarata, who explained the myriad of rewarding opportunities for families to contribute their time, talent, and treasure to the school. 

Next, Head of School Deborah Cook elaborated on the purpose of Convocation- to bring together the various constituents of the school community (who have been separated over the summer), to welcome new families, and to remind each other of our common purpose- to provide an outstanding education for our students in a environment that is both challenging, nurturing, respectful, and accepting. “Chesapeake Academy values academic excellence, but we also hold high expectations for behavior and the way we interact with one another. Behaving respectfully through our words and actions provides students a safe haven to be vulnerable, take risks with their learning, and thrive,” she explained. Part and parcel of Chesapeake tradition is the expectation that students act responsibly in the classrooms and on the playground and athletic fields. “We do what is expected not because of the consequences if we don’t, but because we have agreed to these mutually shared obligations and commitments to one another,” she added. Cook then elaborated on the importance of trust in a healthy community and especially with regard to effective communication. Convocation concluded with the singing of the school’s alma mater and the student and faculty recessional. 

Chesapeake Academy is an independent school offering instruction in Pre-Kindergarten 3&4 through grade eight. There are openings in select classes and mid-year enrollment inquiries are welcome. The Academy dedicates its resources to preparing each student for their future academic, ethical, social and physical endeavors in an intellectually challenging environment. It is an accredited member of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools and currently serves students of Gloucester, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex and Northumberland counties.  To arrange for a campus tour or for additional information, please contact Hilary Scott, Director of Admission, at (804) 438-5575. 

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