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Chesapeake Academy breaks ground on Arts & Innovation Hub

Wearing hardhats and wielding gold shovels, donors broke ground April 5 on an Art & Innovation Hub at Chesapeake Academy in Irvington. The addition to the James Library is in memory of Dianne Chase Monroe, a longtime friend of the school. From left are Michele Faulkner, Carolyn Ratcliffe, Clyde Ratcliffe, Tom Birdsong, Sam Monroe, Doug Monroe, Julianne T. Duvall and David Dew. Photo by Elizabeth Cogar

Chesapeake Academy on April 5 broke ground on an Arts & Innovation (A&I) Hub in memory of Dianne Chase Monroe at the center of Chesapeake Hall on the Rowe campus in Irvington.

The A&I Hub will house the new James Library, innovation and design lab spaces, and a production studio, providing flexible, convertible and expandable spaces for multiple uses, said head of school Julianne T. Duvall.

Designed by Randall Kipp Architecture and built by David Jones and Connemara, this vital central space in the school will reflect Chesapeake Academy’s focus on the deep academic development for students involved in design and innovation, said Duvall. To date some $300,000 has been raised towards a projected cost of $450,000.

“Chesapeake Academy continually grapples with the question of how best to prepare students for a constantly changing future. We know that focusing too much on recall and test taking does not adequately develop basic competencies or authentic life skills,” she said.

“Chesapeake Academy systematically embeds critical thinking across the curriculum. Instead of teaching a catalog of facts, each grade and subject address larger essential questions designed to inspire critical inquiry and broader connections,” said Duvall. “Project-based learning taps into student passions, igniting curiosity and driving learning deeper. We are now ready to move forward on new opportunities for our students in innovation and design.”

The new A&I Hub will house technological equipment, such as a 3D printer, robotics and laser cutter along with power and hand tools. In addition, a broadcasting studio for video and audio, plus arts and design supplies will live side by side with software design tools such as Adobe Creator.

“We embrace design learning at Chesapeake Academy because we believe that it will benefit our students, increasing student motivation, developing resilience and promoting deeper learning. If school serves to prepare children for life, it should look more like life and be filled with challenges and opportunities that truly build life skills,” said Duvall.

Using seed money from lead donors, the plans for the project began in 2017. A one-to-one challenge grant from The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation along with donations from the school and community moved the project from design to implementation. This capital project has not impacted the school’s operating budget in any way.

“This A&I Hub is the outgrowth of rigorous research, extensive faculty development and collaboration, and the generosity of donors who can feel the passion behind this project,” said Duvall. “We are proud to name this exciting space for friend of the school Dianne Chase Monroe.”

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