Kent School has long been known for its nationally recognized Chesapeake Bay Studies Science program in Lower School. In recent years, the School has intentionally expanded Chesapeake Bay Studies curriculum to reach every grade level from Preschool through Grade 8. Recent examples of that expansion include the launch of the Watershed Watch Initiative in Seventh Grade, Eighth Grade students’ continued monitoring of water quality in the Chester River, Fourth Grade students’ terrapin head start, a Middle School Meeting with Shore Rivers Chester Riverkeeper, Tim Trumbauer ‘93 and a multi-grade student participation in Watershed Tree Planting to benefit the Chester River.
Nancy Mugele, Head of Kent School said, “We are most certainly committed to Chesapeake Bay Studies curriculum throughout all grade levels in Science but we also integrate Bay Studies curriculum in other subject areas like history, art and language arts. It is imperative that we educate our students for the world they will live in, not simply the world we live in today. Providing meaningful watershed experiences for our students at every age helps us build an understanding of impacts on our environment and the sustainability practices required to ensure a healthy environment for their future.”
For their Watershed Watch Initiative, Seventh Grade students are engaged in a year-long program with Sultana Education Foundation. The program consists of eight teaching modules; four classroom sessions and four field sessions. Over the course of the modules, students will gain a better understanding of factors impacting the health of the Chester River. In the spring, working individually or in small groups, students will design and implement a community service project which will positively impact the health of the Chester River. Past projects include building and installing wood duck nesting boxes along Radcliffe Creek, organizing a campaign to reduce plastic straw use, and expanding Kent School’s Pamela E. Derringer Rain Garden.
Eighth Grade students have the opportunity to monitor Chester River water for factors that affect the health of the river and the species who rely on the river. Students test for salinity, pH turbidity and dissolved oxygen. Based upon results, students can determine the viability of the ecosystem and factors that may have an impact such as drought or run-off.
At a recent Friday School Meeting, Tim Trumbauer, a member of Kent School’s Class of 1993, addressed Middle School students on the health of the Chester River. Students were an enthusiastic audience, bringing their prior knowledge to the meeting. Mr. Trumbauer was impressed with the students’ understanding of the environmental impacts on the Chester River and surrounding tributaries.
Fourth Grade students, working with Maryland Environmental Services and TERP (Terrapin Education and Research on Poplar) are over wintering a terrapin. Over wintering allows a baby terrapin to get a healthy, head start through the winter months on growth and development. Throughout the academic year, students are responsible for feeding and monitoring the weight and growth of the terrapin. In the spring, Fourth Grade will return the terrapin to native habitat on Poplar Island.
Most recently on Saturday, October 19, Lower School Science Teacher, Donna Simmons took a group of students to join area volunteers in planting trees and shrubs in the Harry C. Green Wildlife Preserve, in Rock Hall – a project supported by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The participants planted over 1,000 plants which will act as a natural buffer to impede run-off into the Chester River. The buffer also prevents shoreline erosion. Mrs. Simmons said, “I am so proud of these kids. They really worked hard. They will be able to see the fruits of their labor for years to come. It was a truly meaningful, hands-on experience that will improve the health of our watershed.”
Kent School’s location, on the bank of The Chester River provides unique access to the Chester River and surrounding wetlands that fosters our students’ environmental awareness. Mugele continued, “The School’s location and relationships with community partners such as Sultana Education Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Center for Environment and Society at Washington College, Echo Hill Outdoor School, and Foremans’ Branch Bird Observatory to name a few, strengthen our ability to provide excellent educational programming in the area of Chesapeake Bay Studies.”
Kent School, located in historic Chestertown, is an independent school serving children from Preschool through Grade Eight. The School’s mission is to guide our students in realizing their potential for academic, artistic, athletic, and moral excellence. Our school’s family-oriented, supportive, student-centered environment fosters the growth of honorable, responsible citizens for our country and our diverse world.