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HCS teacher and student oyster gardeners exhibit at the Shellabration event

Hampton City Schools Oyster Restoration Project teachers and students staffed an educational exhibit at the Shellabration event held in downtown Hampton on Saturday, November 18, 2023, to share how they are positively impacting local waterways while addressing science SOLs through oyster restoration. The Shellabration event sponsored by Shored Up LLC, the Downtown Hampton Development Partnership, and the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance celebrated the many benefits of oysters to our local community.

Phenix PreK-8 School first grade teacher Marcia Lewis and students Elliott Hinshaw and Kinsley Rankin; Jones Magnet Middle School science teachers Sheryl McLaughlin and Sabrina Burbanck and student Trinity Khasidis; Eaton Fundamental Middle School science teacher Lora Thompson; and Kilgore Gifted Center fourth grade teachers Michele Ferrel and Paula Larson and students Jaxxon Combs, Thomas Kipper, Zadkiel Knight, Henry McCraken, Allyson Moore, Woodrow Olrich, Keyla Ramirez-Nava, Luna Russel, Abe Sukal, Jameson Swetish, Arabella Vasquez, and Emma Waters all attended and educated the public about their work raising oysters. 

The students engaged Shellabration participants in demonstrating how to randomly sample and measure oysters. Participants tested their oyster knowledge by spinning the “Oyster Wheel of Knowledge” and students posed oyster- or Chesapeake Bay-related questions to them. The students also assisted the public with an oyster craft – making a paper oyster with a coffee filter. Jaxxon Combs, Thomas Kipper, Henry McCraken, Keyla Ramirez-Nava, Jameson Swetish, and Emma Waters all shared oyster research they have been conducting. Elliott Hinshaw and Kinsley Ranking brought their oyster research and drawings and shared oyster coloring sheets with the public. 

According to Arabella Vasquez, “I think Shellabration was marvelous, and it teaches people how endangered [oysters] are and how important they are.”

Through volunteering time to interact with and educate the public, participating students checked all four focus areas in the HCS Portrait of a Graduate: achieved and appropriately applied academic content knowledge; integrated and applied classroom knowledge to the real world; communicated, collaborated, and demonstrated leadership through building connections with diverse members of the community; and developed and demonstrated a positive sense of self and purpose.

The students and teachers also had the opportunity to build their own knowledge by visiting other educational vendors at the event including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Virginia Tech’s Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC), Resilient Hampton, Hampton University, and Hampton Roads Sanitation District. 

Kinsley Rankin shared, “Oysters help to keep our water clean.” Classmate Elliott Hinshaw added, “Oysters need a healthy habitat.”