Two juniors at Norfolk Academy are writing and illustrating a children’s book, “No More Mermaids,” depicting long-time problems in the Chesapeake Bay. Along with 15 other classmates in grades 9-11, they’re Chesapeake Bay Fellows, involved in a nascent four-year, multidisciplinary and experiential course of study offered through the school’s Center for Civic and Global Leadership. Norfolk Academy has developed four such leadership tracks in the areas of international relations, global health, literacy, and the environment.
The Chesapeake Bay Fellows are learning about the Bay’s history, ecology, and cleanup efforts; some are researching fish, oysters, birds, dead zones, run-off, and pollution. Others collect, analyze, and publish Bay data; read the works of acclaimed environmental writers; and learn about the various entities that implement, enforce, and monitor policy related to the Chesapeake Bay. All fellows develop an aesthetic appreciation for the value of a healthy Bay, and suggest solutions to its problems. It’s a passionate journey of discovery that’s documented in monthly blog posts.
The students often work independently, but also meet weekly with their larger group throughout the year to talk about ongoing projects. Fellows are expected to assess their own efforts and explore their potential; an international curriculum helps develop important leadership skills. The program’s ultimate goal, while creating life-long advocates for the Chesapeake Bay, is to prepare students to become principled civic leaders, helping them learn about complex, real world issues and make a lasting difference in their community.