Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is the Environmental Studies Academy?
The Environmental Studies Academy is a 4-year program offered by Albemarle County Public Schools, designed to offer a unique cross-disciplinary, environmental-based curriculum. Our primary purpose is to effectively prepare all of our students for success in a broad range of environmental options upon graduation. We strive to achieve this by increasing the students' awareness, citizenship, stewardship, and academic knowledge through practical hands on experiments, authentic experiences, and discussion of complex environmental issues.
2) Why Environmental Studies and not Environmental Science?
Environmental Studies and Environmental Science both strive to solve environmental questions and issues. Environmental Studies allows our students a sampling of research-based science courses but also expands outside of the science department to include other disciplines like English, Math, Fine and Practical Arts. We are striving to achieve STEAM not just STEM. We feel that offering our students a broader understanding from multiple perspectives and disciplines increases their comprehensive knowledge. The students can then choose to continue their education specifically in Environmental Studies or Environmental Science upon graduation and will have a valuable, well-rounded, digital portfolio focused on their specific concentration.
3) Where is it located?
The Environmental Studies Academy is located within Western Albemarle High School, in Crozet VA. Western Albemarle High School is part of Albemarle County Public Schools.
4) Who can apply to the ESA?
Currently, only rising 9th graders (current 2019-2020 8th graders) can apply to the program. Applicants must be Albemarle County residents to attend the Environmental Studies Academy and must verify enrollment as an ACPS student prior to admission. Private-school and home-school students may apply. Upon their acceptance, they must verify enrollment prior to being admitted. Any student attending the Environmental Studies Academy will be a full-time Western Albemarle High School student.
5) Is there an additional cost to attend the Environmental Studies Academy?
The Environmental Studies Academy is part of Albemarle County Public Schools. As a public school, there is no tuition cost to attend the Environmental Studies Academy.
6) How is the ESA different from a typical high school experience?
The Environmental Studies Academy is designed to be another option for students who are interested in science and environmental fields. The academy will offer many current high school courses with altered curriculum and enrichment. Students will take 2 academic blocks (approx. 1/4 of their course load), within the ESA. These classes have specialized curriculums focusing on the hands on interactive project/lab based learning and offer unique field experiences from the typical student's high school science classes.
7) We live outside the Albemarle County District, and/or we will be relocating to Albemarle County. Can our child still apply?
The Environmental Studies Academy program is for students who are in the Albemarle County school system. Students who are applying to any of the Academies from outside Albemarle County must show proof of residency in Albemarle County no later than June 14th for the next school year.
Questions regarding residency requirements for Albemarle County and Western Albemarle High School attendance should be directed to the Albemarle County School Board office at (434) 296-5877.
8) We live in Albemarle County, but not in the Western Albemarle District. Can my child still apply to the Environmental Studies Academy?
Yes, all county students are invited to apply to the Academy. Please note that the student will need to attend Western Albemarle High School as a full-time student. Currently bus service will be provided beginning in Fall 2018 on a two year pilot. Students will ride a bus shuttle that will take them to their new school and Academy.
Here is a link to the ACPS press release: Academy Transportation Pilot Approved
9) What grade levels are being accepted into the Academy?
Currently, we offer admission to rising 9th and 10th grade students. Students applying to transfer in as sophomores may be required to take Biology if they have not already received credit for that course.
10) Will my child still be able to participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports and music programs if he/she attends the ESA?
Yes, once a student is accepted into the Environmental Studies Academy, Western Albemarle becomes their home school regardless of their physical address. The student is then eligible to participate in any extracurricular activity offered by WAHS. The student may not attend the ESA and compete in athletics at another county high school in the district The student becomes a Western Albemarle High School student and, if choosing to participate, must participate in extracurricular activities only at WAHS.
12) Who is teaching courses in the Environmental Academy?
Teachers from various departments will be included in the Academy. It is our goal to have students learn and work with a variety of professionals with different discipline expertise, to maximize effectiveness of the holistic educational model. All sections offered will be staffed by Western Albemarle teachers.
13) What might my schedule look like at WAHS?
Students all take their regular courses including Math, English, Science, Social Studies, PE/Health 9, Foreign Language, and Freshman Seminar. For their last course they take an additional Science class in ESA each year. See below link to a possible 4 year plan (courses and levels vary by student except mandated VA or ACPS courses).