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Career and Technical Education Sustainability

Sustainability Triangle

As a leading school division in the region and state, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) understands the importance of sustainability as a 21st century skill. In support of this, the school division’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program is taking a proactive view and is beginning to embed the essence of sustainability in courses offered to students.

From construction to business management courses, sustainability issues are deemed very important in virtually all career pathways. VBCPS advocates the use of the sustainability triangle which helps define sustainability as a dynamic condition characterized by the interconnections and interdependency among ecological, economic and social systems.


Sustainability Projects




We would like to share with you “sustainability” projects that support sustainability skill acquisition as one of Compass to 2015's strategic plan’s premier 21st skills. The following sustainability video by an Advanced Technology Center (ATC) modeling and simulation program student exemplifies these efforts.

The Patagonia Project

During a Fall 2010 Economic Vitality Green Business benchmarking trip to Patagonia® headquarters in Ventura, California, the Patagonia® sustainability officer agreed with

Dr. Patrick Konopnicki, Director of the Office of Technical and Career Education for VBCPS, that the VBCPS/ATC digital design program could submit t-shirt designs reflecting Patagonia’s® corporate philosophy, “Lead an Examined Life.”

In the following months, students researched the company and read Let My People Go Surfing by Patagonia® owner and founder, Yvon Chouinard. After sustainability discussions led by ATC instructor Lee Troxell, students began their Patagonia® designs in earnest. Local voting by students, sustainability practitioners, business leaders, and VBCPS administrators came up with a local top five selection.

All 41 designs were then submitted to Patagonia® for Chouinard to select his personal favorite.  Chouinard personally selected ATC and Green Run High student Sarah B.’s design.





GEF Certification

With green careers gaining global momentum and support, VBCPS was the first district in the nation to offer online sustainability certification to students, giving them an extra edge in the job market and higher education. Sustainability 101 was a self-paced, 15-hour online course designed with a strong foundational knowledge of sustainability and balance between environmental, social, and economic systems. Students who passed the accompanying certification test received a VBCPS Sustainability 101 Certification.

Give Jeans a Chance

During both the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, TCE Marketing and fashion students from 12 schools, in partnership with Coastal Edge, participated in the Give Jeans a Chance campaign designed to bring awareness to the needs of Virginia Beach’s homeless community. The students collected gently used and new jeans throughout the school year. Using their marketing skills, the students promoted the campaign within their school and to their community. Students made the connection between ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’ and social responsibility, one of the three tenets of sustainability. The 2011 celebration included a special West Coast visit from VOLCOM Sustainability officer Derek Sabori.

Since 2010, more than 6,000 gently used jeans have been donated to the homeless community. The number of jeans collected by students represents more than 50% of the Give Jeans a Chance national total according to Coastal Edge owner D. Nachnani.

Enterprising Youth Go Solar

During spring 2009, SEVA-PORT facilitated a multidisciplinary partnership between Junior Achievement and Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Students from the Modeling and Simulation class at the Advanced Technology Center and the Advanced Entrepreneurship class at Landstown High worked together to create NUVO, a student-organized business that creates products in renewable energy. The business seeks opportunities to offer environmentally friendly products that employ green technology The group’s first product, the Para-Solar, is a solar-powered umbrella that uses power from the sun to generate extended battery power for personal electronic devices such as MP3 players, cell phones and cameras.

Clean and Green Enterprises

The Clean and Green Enterprise project involved a virtual enterprise student group project from Cox High. Students have the opportunity to decide on a business they would like to operate. After a business is selected, students develop a business plan and present their business plan to a panel of judges in order to request a start-up loan. Each student-established business must complete these tasks: apply for a business license; operate several departments within their business; and pay company expenses through their virtual bank account. All students have a bank account and are responsible for budgeting and managing their salaries and credit. Students – considered employees of their virtual business – are required to trade or purchase goods and services from other virtual firms across the world.


21st Century Skills and Assessment


Designing a Book Cover Promoting Sustainability

Nationally renowned curriculum design expert Jay McTighe, along with a film crew from the Association for Supervision Curriculum and Development (ASCD), paid a visit to the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to film 21st century skills and assessment in action. The finished product is now part of an ASCD video series featuring 21st century skills and assessments. Lee Troxell, an ATC digital design instructor, created a project lesson that culminated with a student-designed book cover sequel to Tom Friedman’s Hot Flat and Crowded hypothetically called Convergence: Living in a Hot Flat Crowded World. This video, along with other career and technical education (CTE) project-based lessons, are being used to train CTE teachers and school administrators on the subject of sustainability and the school division’s 21st century skill continuum.

Protecting the World’s Natural Environment

Marketing management and Legal Studies Academy student Brittany Treadway undertook a large task for her senior project at First Colonial High by creating an eco fashion show called Go Green Go Fierce. After writing the script, light and music, and securing all the eco fashion apparel and model training, Brittany managed to put on a production for several hundred attendees. She concluded her production with a presentation on sustainability.

Green Light: Designed to Capture CO2

During the 2009-2010 school year, a grant sponsored by Junior Achievement provided funding for a class project at the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) and Landstown High. Students enrolled in the ATC’s 3d Modeling & Simulation class and Landstown High’s Marketing class worked jointly on a project incorporating new technologies that are environmentally friendly and efficient.

The finished product, named Green Light, is designed to capture CO2 emitted into the air. Green Light is best described as a street light using LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights powered by nearby solar panels. LED lights are more efficient and last longer than conventional light bulbs. Although Green Light is not able to capture all of the ambient CO2, approximately 1,200 pounds of CO2 will be captured by each Green Light per day. The captured CO2 will then be sold to algae farms and used as a gas supplement to quicken the algae’s rate of growth.

With the added CO2, the algae will grow very rapidly and possibly double every hour. The algae could then be used to create biodiesel fuels and environmentally-friendly fertilizer for crops. Green Light will also create jobs in the fields of maintenance, infrastructure, construction, and manufacturing. This product is not only eco-friendly, but will create opportunities for work and provide resources to help combat the energy crisis. Take a look at Green Light and how it works.


Last Modified on Tuesday, April 18, 2017