Academy for Discovery at Lakewood (ADL) is a city-wide 3rd through 8th grade school with an academic focus on Project Based Learning (grades 3 through 5) and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) (grades 6 through 8).  The program challenges students through rigorous coursework, while teaching them skills to be successful in learning and life.  The school opened September 1, 2015 with 675 students.  Students are selected through an application and lottery based system.  The first year the school opened, students were accepted in all grades 3 through 8.  Now, the entry points into the school are in 3rd and 6th grade only.  Applications are released in November and the process is finalized through a lottery selection in early April.  The school has reached the final planned capped enrollment of 750 students during the 2019-2020 school year. Former Principal Mr. Tommy Smigiel was hired in July 2014 to serve as a planning principal while the school remained closed during that school year.  Mr. Smigiel worked with future parents, community members, business leaders, Old Dominion University faculty, and school leaders to form a School Planning and Management Team (SPMT) to make recommendation on the program as well as write the mission and philosophy of the school.  The SPMT was chaired by Dr. Robert Spina, former interim department chair, Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Professional Studies, Darden College of Education at Old Dominion University.  Driving the process was a specific charge by the School Board to develop the following:

    • The school should have a specific focus with a purpose of attracting students from all over the Division creating a diverse environment aimed at student achievement
    • Leadership and Staff of the new facility should have the professional development necessary to create a successful management/choice environment.

    The SPMT worked tirelessly for a year to develop a program to meet this charge.  The team researched academic programs which would not only challenge students, but would offer an engaging learning environment to meet all types of learning needs.  As part of establishing the new school, the NPS school board invested in new furniture, new technology and repair of minor maintenance issues.  Before the school opened, over 175 interviews were conducted to hire approximately 50 new faculty and staff who would lead the new school.  The School Board and Superintendent also committed funding to make sure teachers received professional development necessary to provide a learning environment.  In the summer prior to the start of the school year, all teacher received training in Project Based Learning as well as training in the philosophy of the International Baccalaureate Program.

    The SPMT developed the school's mission and philosophy, as well as assisted with the candidate application for the IB MYP.  They also led the process for the naming of the school.  Academy for Discovery at Lakewood was one of five school name finalized eventually voted on by the school board.  The SPMT recommended that the school's colors be red, white and blue as each of the five high schools ADL students would eventually attend have one of these colors for their primary or secondary school color.  Mr. Smigiel recommended that the mascot be an Eagle, which was symbolic for resiliency, freedom, courage, success, insight and leadership.  Some of the highlights of the school include:

    • A full middle school sports program (Go Eagles!)
    • A project lab for each elementary grade level to assist with Project Based Learning activities
    • A 3D printers for student use in middle school art and technology classes
    • An iMac Lab
    • Wireless routers throughout the building which supports a Bring Your Own Device policy
    • New furniture which supports collaborative teaching and learning 

    After the first year, ADL met the requirements to be a fully accredited school and has remained fully accredited the last five years with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).   ADL's VDOE Report Card can be downloaded here: ADL VDOE REPORT CARD

    Before ADL opened, it was recognized as a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.  In May of 2017, after two years of a rigorous process, ADL became only the second middle school in all of South Hampton Roads to be recognized as fully authorized IB Middle Years Programme School.