Return to the River

Head-elect Colley Bell remembers standing on the St. Margaret's lawn in the 1970s and never forgetting the Rappahannock River's magnificence and St. Margaret's. He now plans to see the River Program revitalized in the context of the third decade of the 21st Century while St. Margaret's steps into its second century.
This summer, St. Margaret's welcomed Gabby Foley to begin an eight-week internship centered around building a boating program for the upcoming school year. Gabby is a rising junior at Sewanee, The University of the South, majoring in Environment and Sustainability with a minor in Forestry. She has been a lifelong resident of the Chesapeake Bay and is thrilled to have the opportunity to continue learning and working by the water. The primary goals of the River Program are to clean and restore the school's seven crew shells, design plans for a boathouse closer to the waterfront and establish a crew club for students interested in learning the sport. Long-term goals involve St. Margaret's becoming competitive in the Tidewater area.

Along with reintroducing a crew club, four sunfish sailboats will be brought back to the waterfront, and staff will reincorporate sailing instruction into school life. Academic opportunities within the context of the River Program will revolve around the water. Field trips, outdoor labs, and educational opportunities on the river are being formulated for the fall semester this summer. The River Program is being designed to weave through all aspects of school life. The Rappahannock is St. Margaret's most impressive feature. More opportunities will provide students to build a community around the water in the coming school year.

Gabby rowed at Norfolk Academy and is excited to bring this opportunity back to St. Margaret's. She is joined by Mr. Bell's son, Colley Bell IV, in preparing the rowing shells and sailboats this summer. "We want our girls to experience the river in several ways. I think the girls can expect to be doing a lot of different things; I tend to approach from the old Episcopal maxim, the 'Gospel of Doing,'" said Mr. Bell. Gabby and young Colley will also be on the lookout for a pontoon for classwork, club river projects, engaging activities, and water safety.

According to Gabby, "After having arrived at St. Margaret's, I am charmed and intrigued by the campus. Every academic and dorm building has a story. The historical significance of Tappahannock and the deep-rooted sense of community within the school shows itself all down Water Lane. I have met a few faculty members this past week and they all have been most welcoming. As a forestry minor, I am very impressed with the health and quality of maintenance for the massive old-growth trees on campus. My favorite has been the Gingko outside of A-House. I am excited to meet you all!"

Incorporating environmental conservation and lifelong stewardship is a central component of the St. Margaret's River Program. Gabby and Mrs. Bell will be establishing partnerships near and far on river restoration, environmental, and cultural programming.

If you would like to help with our River Program, please email Gabby at Look for more in our social media on the campus happenings on the river this summer!
St. Margaret's School
P.O. Box 158
Tappahannock, VA 22560
T: 804-443-3357
Episcopal girls' school for boarding and day, grades 8-PG, on the banks of the Rappahannock River in Virginia.