MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The posting of the nations’ flag by the Lejeune High School Junior Recruit Officer Training Corps Color Guard and the National Anthem sung by 4th-grade students with Heroes Elementary School kicked off the Heroes Elementary School’s dedication ceremony aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Oct. 7.
Dewanda Sholar, principal of Heroes Elementary School, Col. Daniel Lecce, commanding officer of MCB Camp Lejeune and Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, the Office of the Secretary of Defense principal deputy under secretary for personnel and readiness were on hand to speak about the importance of providing education for the community’s youth.
The ceremony also marked the transferring of Heroes Elementary School to Department of Defense Education Activity, Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools, North Carolina DDESS and Camp Lejeune Dependent Schools. The school’s student population currently sits at 398, but will accommodate up to 768 once more families move onto base in the future.
The opening of the new school affords children who were affected by Hurricane Irene the opportunity to build an education at Heroes Elementary.
“Students displaced from the hurricane at (Tarawa Terrace), in grades three to five, are bused to this school,” said Dr. Emily Marsh, superintendent with NCDDESS. “It’s a wonderful school that serves many different children from across the installation.”
The $20-million building itself is constructed to maximize natural light and the environment, which also helps to be energy efficient. The school also has things such as an occupational therapy room equipped with state-of-the-art technology, from classroom computers and an information system center to smart boards and handheld devices use to help teach children.
“All those things sum up a 21st century education,” said Ms. Marilee Fitzgerald, acting director of DODEA. “So when these doors open up, they open up to a beautiful facility, but it’s what happens in these classrooms that’s something different.”
If someone stepped inside for a glimpse of the school they would see multiple classrooms and age groups, and children who learn at their own pace.
“In the adult world, we’re about competency, so when you have that competency you move to the next thing,” said Fitzgerald. “This idea is translating into the educational arena, so if (a child) masters it, (he) moves on. If (he is) a little stuck, we accommodate with the additional learning strategies.”
Fitzgerald said schools teach science and math, but it is importance to weave everything into what the children are doing. It’s integration into the whole curriculum, not just an individual course.
One example is how geometry can be taught while constructing a house for an art project. Teaching methods such as this are innovative and new to the majority of traditional schools.
“When I look at this building, I only see the possibilities for our children in a very different way from when I went to school,” said Fitzgerald.
Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Heroes Elementary School may sprout the Einsteins of today by offering a student-centric education that supports and promotes creative thinking, which is parallel to imaginative thinking.
“They are really choosing their own destiny. There are very many opportunities because they are preparing for the 21st century,” said Marsh. “We need to have new and innovative ways of looking at things, so this environment will support that creativity for engineering, mathematics, science and technology. I heard someone say ‘this is a place where our future leaders are under construction,’ and indeed they are.”