video brings home the Bonner Bridge controversy
By JORDAN TOMBERLIN
When First Flight High School teacher
Lisa Duke was thinking of a year-long, benchmark project for her two
sophomore civics classes, she immediately thought of the situation with
the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge.
Having briefly taught classes at Cape Hatteras Secondary School,
commuting daily from the Nags Head area, Duke is pretty familiar with
While driving home during the 2006 Thanksgiving northeaster, Duke said
could feel the bridge shaking and moving under her as she drove over
it. That experience was one of the deciding factors in her decision to
transfer to First Flight in Kill Devil Hills.
Planning for replacing the 45-year-old bridge over Oregon Inlet, the
only land link to Hatteras Island, began almost two decades ago and has
been controversial from the start. Any choice for replacing the bridge
has environmental consequences on these fragile barrier
islands. And the controversy has only intensified in recent
years as various alternatives have been put forward. Last summer, the
state Department of Transportation announced that it would build a
short bridge, parallel to the current span, instead of a 17-mile span
out into Pamlico Sound that would come onto the island in Rodanthe.
Realizing the controversy surrounding the replacement of the bridge
would fit perfectly with the curriculum of her civics and economics
classes, Duke presented the idea to her students, who embraced it with
Work on the project began in August. The students started
researching the current conditions of the bridge and wrote letters to
Congress. They also collaborated with the advanced placement statistics
classes, which created graphs to help visualize bridge data.
The students also decided that they wanted to create a You Tube
The video quickly became a huge undertaking, and the students enlisted
the help of senior Giancarlo Bauzulli, who was doing his senior project
on civil engineering.
Production of the video began in early November, and was completed in
early April. The video required a lot of extra work from the
students, which they happily gave.
They even came in on Saturday, for no extra credit. Now
All their hard work has certainly paid off. The video is receiving a
good deal of press and attention.
The video is available on You Tube and will also be shown on Channel
20, Dare County’s cable channel.
In addition, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, adjunct professor of educational
technology at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, will
be presenting the students’ video at conferences all over the
world—Chicago, Alabama, China, New Zealand, and
The students themselves will be presenting the video at the Dare County
Board of Commissioners meeting on May 19 in Manteo.
Work on the year-long project will continue, and in the upcoming weeks,
Duke’s students will be talking to the civics students of
South High School, a school near the collapsed Minneapolis I-35 bridge,
about the impact that incident had on their lives, school, and