Sussex Academy event supports elementary school expansion

September 1, 2021

Under the Bishop Wright Pavilion at Camp Arrowhead’s serene campground, parents, teachers, board members and supporters of Sussex Academy gathered Aug. 29 to fundraise for the elementary school campus.

Sussex Academy offers K-12 education with a unique focus on environmental science. Sussex Academy opened its doors in 2000, serving grades 6-8. Thirteen years later, Sussex Academy opened an option for ninth grade, then added one additional grade per year and celebrated its first graduating high school class in 2017. 2020 was the first year Sussex Academy offered elementary education. 

Eight hundred students applied to the elementary school and only 247 were accepted using a third-party lottery system, said Connie Hendricks, elementary school dean. The fundraiser held Aug. 29 was to support an expansion of the elementary school student body from 247 to 480.

Sussex Academy has three main principles that set it apart from traditional public school options, said Head of School Eric Anderson. The school works to create an environmentally conscious mind-set in students that embodies an attitude of service and global reach. Anderson said the expansion of the K-5 program was created in hopes of cultivating that mind-set from an early age. 

Hendricks said Sussex Academy elementary education is a chance for students to learn about their environment in a hands-on way. The elementary school offers a 33-acre campus, which includes two ponds, a nature path, goats, chickens, a greenhouse and a garden. “I don’t want students to be in their seats all day,” she said. “I want them to go outside and play in their environment, while still being challenged in a way that's kid-friendly.”

From kindergarten on, Sussex Academy students learn about environmental science. In high school, students will complete a four-year community service project of their choosing. They are responsible for serving the community, creating awareness around the issue, and learning how to sustain that awareness beyond their time at Sussex Academy.

“We want our students to know there is a world beyond Sussex County,” Anderson said. “We cultivate leaders to go out and change the world.”

Anderson does not view Sussex Academy as a competitor to other local schools, but an opportunity. “Whether students choose a public or charter school, Sussex Academy serves to provide an option in the community so every child’s needs are met,” he said. 






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