Park and School: LAVA, A Partnership For Learning


Less than an hour away from Red Bluff, Lassen Volcanic National Park is a 166-square-mile open-air classroom just waiting to be explored. A new charter school, Lassen-Antelope Volcanic Academy, or LAVA, takes advantage of having such a treasure right in its backyard, says the program’s executive director, John Sheffield.

Featuring flexible scheduling, innovative teaching, and hands-on learning, LAVA gives families the chance to tailor an educational program to fit their students’ individual needs. Because the fledgling program is a partnership between Antelope School District and Lassen Volcanic National Park, students enjoy unfettered access to the park that they can’t get elsewhere.

Fridays are designated park days, Sheffield explains, when students are transported approximately 45 minutes to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Fieldwork related to classroom studies is reinforced by real life situations in the great outdoors. Students explore hydrothermal areas, volcanic lava flows, watersheds, sprawling wilderness, and the knowledge of the park educators. What students learn in the classroom is integrated with STEM studies and hands-on learning.

LAVA students can choose traditional independent study or a hybrid independent study program in which they attend class three to five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Monroe Street site in Red Bluff. All students can take advantage of afternoon enrichment programs if they wish, including guitar lessons, dance lessons, voice coaching, computer programming and more.

Core classes, taught by three teachers, include English, math, science, social science and Spanish.

LAVA is a concept that started brewing last year when Sheffield was lamenting some of the restrictions of traditional education with Antelope School District’s Superintendent, Rich Hassay. With so many classrooms ruled by test scores and other regimented educational models of the past, students were missing out on rich experiences that will serve them well in the 21st century, says Sheffield.

LAVA’s inquiry-based, thematic units of study will allow students in grades fifth through eighth to advance at their own pace, Sheffield says. Classes are formulated based on students’ ability levels.

“LAVA Charter School will strive to develop a culture that allows students to acquire the skills and knowledge that will motivate them to become lifelong learners,” the school’s charter states. “It is our goal to transition each student successfully to higher education or the workplace, and become a productive member of a democratic society that allows all students equal opportunity and access to this process.”

If you are interested in learning more about LAVA, or to fill out an application for the upcoming 16-17 school year, visit their website at, or call the Antelope School District at (530) 527-1272.

Skye Kinkade
About Skye Kinkade

Skye Kinkade is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and mother of four lively children. She enjoys being part of a close-knit community that is so generous and kind in difficult times.

Comment Policy: All viewpoints are welcome, but comments should remain relevant. Personal attacks, profanity, and aggressive behavior are not allowed. No spam, advertising, or promoting of products/services. Please, only use your real name and limit the amount of links submitted in your comment.

Leave a Reply