Jul 11th, 2012
BY JESSE JACKSON
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
LAKE WALES – What do you have when you take a fully equipped and functional pontoon boat that’s able to comfortably accommodate more than 20 middle school students, several teachers and volunteers, and a 7,000-acre pristine Lake Caloosa (or Crooked Lake as we know it)?
You have the best darn outdoor biology classroom in the state of Florida. Aside from the obvious advantages of having a middle school on the shores of this wonderful lake – kayaking, fishing, and a host of other water sports – Bok Academy science teachers are working to incorporate scientific principles into their study of real life issues associated with Crooked Lake.
As young scientists, Bok Academy students will have an opportunity to define and classify life forms in the lake; investigate the various ecosystems that exist there; study cell structures and functions of organisms found in the lake; investigate chemical properties and changes of water samples; study weathering and erosion; and a host of other important scientific phenomena associated with Crooked Lake, all from the deck of their 18×40 foot pontoon boat.
Can you imagine any of these students not wanting to come to class?
Damien Moses, principal of Bok Academy, had the inspiration for this wonderful learning opportunity for Bok students. He and members of his faculty have been working diligently on every aspect of this important academic program that’s being added to their curriculum.
With the help and support of community partners – including TD Bank, which recently awarded Bok a $10,000 grant to help pay for the boat – the administration and faculty are excited about this new opportunity for students.
Although TD Bank is relatively new to the Lake Wales community, its leadership has stepped up in a major way to support education. Several months ago Chief Financial Officer for Lake Wales Charter Schools, Brian Fisher and I met with representatives from the bank to discuss some of the bank’s programs that support education. At the time of our meeting we were hopeful about future possibilities. It’s amazing how this relatively new bank could come through in such a big way so soon. We are extremely appreciative to TD Charitable Foundation for its wonderful gift to Bok Academy.
PHOTO #1: Bok Academy Principal Damien Moses (right) accepts the $10,000 donation for the “floating classroom” from TD Charitable Foundation.
PHOTO #2: Students have many opportunities to study nature on Bok’s lakefront campus (file photo).
PHOTOS #3 & #4: Bok students regularly compete in kayak regattas and other sports activities on Crooked Lake (file photos).