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BVA Weekly History Hikes

The Brandywine Virtual Academy (BVA), operated by the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU), is taking online education to new levels by incorporating regularly scheduled in-person, local field trips into the curriculum. Starting this school year, BVA now offers weekly field trips for students in BVA and the Philadelphia Virtual Academy (PVA) to visit various local sites with historical relevance, referred to as History Hikes.
Taking point on the initiative are two teachers who believe in expanding their students’ learning beyond walls and screens. Andy Wagner and Bryant Aragona, BVA history teachers, collaborated to offer student experiences that transcend online learning and bring history to life through field trips.
Both teachers advocated for increasing in-person student experiences and brought the idea to Dr. Mark Slider, BVA supervisor of online learning, who enthusiastically endorsed the field trips. Thanks to Wagner, Aragona and Slider, BVA field trips, which used to be sporadically scheduled throughout the school year, are now offered to students weekly.
“We felt that offering this weekly and moving it throughout the region where we serve our districts would create greater opportunities for students to join us,” said Wagner. “In addition, these trips provide students with a healthy option to get out and move and to discover places that they may visit time and time again on their own,” he added.
"The BVA History Hikes provide opportunities for Pennsylvania history and culture to be highlighted,” said Slider. “The connections that our incredible BVA staff make with students build relationships and bring history and science to life for our students!"
Samaiyah Dorsey, a PVA student who recently visited the Museum of the American Revolution with Wagner and Aragona, expressed excitement about the trip. “I had fun and I got to spend time with my mom and teacher,” she said. When asked if she would recommend History Hikes to other virtual students, she responded, “I would recommend it because you can learn a few things while having fun.”
Some of the places visited during recent BVA History Hikes include the Pottsgrove Manor, the Coatesville Iron and Steel Museum and President James Buchanan’s house.

BVA offers students throughout the county the opportunity to attend school virtually while earning their class credits and diploma from their sending school. Courses are developed and taught by locally based, Pennsylvania-certified teachers, and BVA curriculum includes and assesses Pennsylvania state standards. To learn more about BVA, please visit