The Salisbury School continues its near 50-year tradition fostering its students’ love of learning by empowering their abilities through two new and dynamic initiatives

Any given day on The Salisbury School campus, one might see student-built rockets being launched down hallways or kites born through the teaching of geometry taking flight. This is an environment in which the playing of classical music signals the changing of classes and where boxes are used for learning how to think outside of them. There is also an ever-present drive for administrators and educators to enhance student enrichment, and two new initiatives were recently introduced to foster that love of learning.

In late January, school officials and Ultra Solar and Wind Solutions, LLC of Ocean City unveiled the installation of a large ground-mount solar array comprising 900 Sunpower 435-watt panels, which will cover 100% of the electricity used on the TSS campus. The “Dragon Charged and Solar Powered” initiative — a joint salute to the school’s mascot and the project’s innovation — was made possible thanks largely to the generosity of Tom and Anita Johnson, who provided the investment for the installation and will serve as Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) providers to the school. The Johnsons are parents of a recent Salisbury School graduate, and Tom is currently president of The Salisbury School Educational Foundation and past board chairman.

The benefits of the solar panels already extend beyond utility bills and into the classroom, where the SunPower Horizons STEM-based education program is being offered to students from K-12 grade levels. This platform is recognized as one of the most comprehensive and substantive STEM systems available. Kindergarten-age youngsters are currently learning about the power of the sun, and in the middle school, students of 7th grade science class monitored the panel installation process and were challenged to examine what other purposes solar power could provide on campus. 

“They determined there was not enough lighting behind the middle-school building, so they conceptually designed and then created an illuminated path of solar lighting from scratch, including its circuitry and its housing, inside mason jars,” said Ed Cowell, headmaster of TSS. “This is synthesized learning at its finest. 

“We’ve always been a school dedicated to green initiatives and alternative-energy sources, and this is a grander compliment to that idea,” Cowell continued. “What’s truly exciting is to see the concepts of creativity, art, engineering and ingenuity all come into play from (the solar-panel installation). I don’t know that you can fully grasp the magnitude it’s already had on our students unless you’re actually here to see it.”

The second key initiative, the Senior Capstone Project, allows students an opportunity to demonstrate a synthesis of their academic experience at The Salisbury School through a rich and reflective research project. Consistent with the school’s philosophy of helping students be their best selves, the capstone topics are left to the students to choose and many reflect a confluence of the students personal, academic and civic interests. Upon choosing a faculty oversight committee, students will work independently for 18 weeks, preparing a presentation that demonstrates their knowledge and results of their research. 

The culmination of the Capstone Project is its presentation element. On May 17, each student will deliver a 20-minute presentation to share their findings in an academic conference setting to their peers, the TSS community and parents. 

The presentation is required to include a visual component (Powerpoint, Prezi, Slideshare, posterboard, etc.) to help guide the audience through their argument.

“We are always challenged to answer, ‘What defines The Salisbury School student,’” said Cowell. “We feel certain that our students will demonstrate success in college and in life as creative, critical thinkers, problem solvers, civic leaders and strong public speakers. Our hope is that once our students are beyond the formal levels of higher learning and are successful contributing members of society, they still yearn to learn more. This deeper synthetic research exercise is indeed one of those defining characteristics of our students. That each graduate will leave us not only with good research practice, but also understand the most important component of research, and that is how to ask the right questions. For it is the questions that guide us closest to the answers we seek.”


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