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$14K grant helps nature become classroom for all Lynchburg middle school students

Students learn how to kayak across river, water quality, capturing creatures

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Torri Winchester one of the several middle school students who will make their way down to the James River this month. 

"I didn't think in a million years I would ever hold a fish, but I actually caught one," said Winchester, an eighth-grader at Sandusky.

James River Association and Lynchburg City Schools are partnering once again to get eighth-graders out of the classroom.

But it's the first time, a $14,000 grant will help get all three middle schools: Linkhorne, Sandusky and P.L Dunbar, involved in the lesson.

"You just can't learn things until you get out there, until you really touch it. So this is just great way for them to come out," said Matthew Mason, principal at Sandusky Middle.

Educators with the JRA taught students how to kayak across the river, about the water quality, 
and about classifying and capturing crawly creatures.

"One of our missions with the JRA is to get as many kids on the river as possible, and to educate them... on how it is a place that they can come whenever they want," said Connor Schroeder, lead educator for the JRA.

School officials say what students learned Tuesday will show up on their SOL (standard of learning) tests later this year. 

"The test is really the baseline and I think what the state of Virginia is definitely pushing ... to take our kids beyond that and have kids actually experience the learning," Mason said.

Winchester said the hands-on experience will help her once it's time to put pencil to paper.

"Our teachers tell us stuff, but I feel like this helped a lot. They explained it very well. They gave us details and then they gave us examples on how to deal with this in our future," Winchester said.


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