Earlier this year, the Mississippi Department of Education deemed Grenada Schools a "District of Innovation," one of only five districts in the state to enjoy such distinction. Innovation status grants us exemption from certain state education requirements and allows us broader freedom to explore more forward-thinking curriculum.
Every school in the Grenada School District has seized this opportunity. "Innovation" is the new watchword around here, and it is our sincere belief that through innovative learning, we can improve this school and, in turn, our whole community.
Our mission of innovation begins at a very young age, younger than most suspect. GSD's Pre-K Learning Block programs, which started in 2015, grew by leaps and bounds last year, and starting this semester, it will expand to include three-year-old students.
When we first approached Grenada Elementary kindergarten teachers with the idea of a Pre-K program, they were enthusiastic but also warned us about bringing small children into such a big environment. The prospect of sending a four-year-old child to school, where they attend classes in the same building as kids up to twice their age, can be intimidating, both for parents and students. Therefore it was critical that the program be well-planned and developmentally appropriate.
We're proud to say that, after the first year, the students exceeded our high expectations. Not only have the kids' test scores shot up, their self-confidence and social skills have soared as well.
To design the learning environment of our Pre-K classrooms, we turned to the experts at Hatch, an education company that has been designing innovative classrooms for over 30 years. Everything they designed for the Pre-K classes are developmentally appropriate for four-year-olds, from the furniture to the centers to the hands-on activities. We even installed a new playground, made especially for and used only by the Pre-K classes.
For our first Pre-K class last year, we had the students come earlier than the older kids to get them acclimated to the school, and we were amazed how quickly they adjusted. They learned the building, how to navigate the cafeteria, how to walk quietly in the hall, and how to stay in line. By the end of the school year, you couldn't tell our Pre-K class from the kindergarten class!
To staff the classes, we hired certified teachers who specialize in early learning, along with assistants, providing a one-to-ten teacher-student ratio. We've met all the state guidelines for these early-learning classes as well.
The classroom environment is fun and energetic. There's a lot of movement, music, games, and hands-on activities. One class had a pet bunny that the children learned to care for and clean up after. There is small-group instruction with decodable readers to prepare the children for phonics. The four-year-olds have shown remarkable growth in letter-recognition, counting, and story comprehension. Social interaction is a big component, and they've learned to work with others and take direction from adults other than their parents.
We visited a class one day and found students on the floor clapping out syllables in words, a first-grade skill! To see that level of learning going on in a four-year-old class gives us the idea that by the time these kids get to kindergarten, they'll be challenging the teachers and really pushing the limits of what kindergarteners are expected to achieve.
We're extremely encouraged by the positive feedback we're hearing from the parents of these children, who are amazed by how much their children have learned. They feel so much better about sending their young ones to kindergarten because the kids are so confident. Now they know the school environment, they know what to expect from their teachers and classmates, and they're well-established in their alphabet and numbers, along with advanced concepts in language and math.
The success of our first-year Pre-K program has compelled us to expand the Learning Blocks mission. This summer, we offered extended care. Students attended from 7 to 5 Monday through Friday, continuing their learning and engaging in activities such as building a castle playhouse and horseback riding.
We took another big leap this year by introducing our first three-year-old program. We'll begin nudging these kids toward the same skills the four-year-olds have mastered, making it our mission to have them recognizing letters, counting to ten, and writing their names by the end of the year. We can't find another district in the state offering this level of early learning.
That's how Grenada is leading the pack, not only for the children of our county, but for the whole state. You better believe we'll be watching these students as they progress through the elementary, middle, and high schools — pushing us toward even greater heights of achievement and innovation in the coming years.
Knights of Columbus Donates to GUES
(back l to r) GSD Director of Special Education Bea Colbert, GSD Computer Technician & Knights of Columbus Member Joseph Liberto, GSD Superintendent Dr. David Daigneault, Knights of Columbus Trustee Lee Munstenteiger, and GUES Special Education Teacher Shannon Potter
On July 26, 2017, employees of the Grenada School District were presented a check from the Knights of Columbus Council #10443 of Saint Peter's Catholic Church in Grenada. The generous gift, totaling $4430.12, came from funds generated by the Knights of Columbus'annual Tootsie Roll Fundraiser held every May, as well as matching funds from the Wal-Mart Corporation. The gift will be used to purchase educational materials and adaptive equipment for students with intellectual and physical disabilities in the Grenada School District. As a result of this gift, special education students at every school campus will have specialized equipment to promote cognitive, physical, social, emotional, communicative, and adaptive skill development in their classrooms.
GMS Basketball Cheerleaders
GMS basketball cheerleaders Katelyn Winters, Ashlyn Boclear, Summer
Booker, Kayla Robinson, Tia Ewing, Erinisha Savage, Autumn Davis, Tanija
Townes, Alyssia Biggins, and Mersie Watkins attended UCA (Universal
Cheerleaders Association) Summer Camp held at the University of Mississippi.
The squad was awarded three trophies, a superior rating for sideline
cheers and motion skills, and numerous gold ribbons for performances
throughout the week.
(back l to r) Darvis Purnell, Parissa Randle, Sharon Sayles, Ashley Taylor,
Lavaya Johnson, Latoya Shipp, Shavonne Bradley, (center l to r) Crystal
Mitchell, Sheila Noel, Jasmine Loggins, Star Boyles, Debbie Cunningham,
Markita Booker, Kirsandra Gayden, Masheavia Booker, Tiffany McCuiston,
(front l to r) Shatasa Smith-Jones, Alicia Hayes, Devetris Pratt, April Lane,
Markitta Chamblee, Shalunda Hardiman, Shirlesha West, Keon Townes,
LaShawn Perryman, Tamara Hobgood, and Shonqilla Small
By AmeriCorps Director
The Grenada School District Ameri-
Corps Program has proven to be a
winner! Each year the members tutored
students who needed extra attention in
order to stay up to grade level. They have
continually succeeded in reaching their
goals to help students grow at least 15
percent academically. Many achieved
even higher numbers.
The members also proved to be a
blessing to many community efforts like
the Boys and Girls Club, Food Pantry,
the Grenada Chamber of Commerce,
and Grenada Tourism Commission. The
Elizabeth Jones Library has partnered in
presenting Reading Programs, Holmes
Community College cooperates with
training space and ACT Work Keys testing,
Dollar General donates items for
the reading programs, and the City and
County provide job skill training opportunities
for the members.
Congratulation 2016-2017 AmeriCorps
class for receiving your required 1,700
service hours. The members will be
graduating on August 31, 2017, at Taylor
Hall at 6 p.m. We appreciate your service
and dedication to our school and community.
For more information about the Grenada
School District AmeriCorps program,
contact program director Gwen Woodson
at firstname.lastname@example.org. For
more information about AmeriCorps,
2017 GHS Football Seniors
(4th Row l to r ) Antonio Whatley, Timothy Covington, Baylee Trusty, Jacob Dickson, Ken Cook, Ja'Darrius Ward, Austin Ruthelford, (3rd Row l to r) Ty Williams, Colton Cahill, Camron Johnson, Deantrell Long, Samuel Stewart, Tommy Bridges, T.J. Cook, (2nd Row l to r) Christian Cain, Will Baker, Jahmeir Johnson, Chaz Trost, Chris Caldwell, Will Rounds, David Meadows, Gavin Kolb, (1st Row l to r) Jared Barnes, Quen Thompson, Jamarcus Hubbard, Isaiah Townes, Deon House, Easton Curry, and Jadarius Carver
2017 GHS Band Camp
Shannon Turner, Dallin Foreman, and Christopher Davis
Arlon Wise and Braden Waugh
Ja'Mya Benson, Kennedi Hardy, and Mary Anne Frazier
Henna Dadlani, Zykel Shack, Samantha Rankin, (front) Kari Grace Marshall
By Jamie Kornegay
With a week before classes, the intensity and execution of the Grenada Band is like a military operation. The sounds of their rehearsal echo over the campus. Clacking sticks keep time in quarter notes. Bass drum beats wallop every half measure. The brass section wails as the director calls out instructions over a megaphone.
Every year, band camp announces the end of summer and the start of a new school year. It's also the time when Grenada Band band members dig in to rehearse their anticipated halftime field show.
The buzz surrounding this year's show is the inclusion of popular songs — both contemporary and classic — which comprise the musical portion of "If You're Reading This," a tribute to U.S. soldiers and their families during times of war.
Written and choreographed by Grenada Band Assistant Directors Chris Sumrall and Kim Presley, "If You're Reading This" is a love story told in letters, set across different time periods and conflicts in American history, from World War II to modern-day Afghanistan.
Sumrall, who directs the marching band, says the show is "not only about the sacrifice of the men in battle but a message of empowerment for the women who keep the home front as well."
"Through the different wars, the stories are very much the same," says Presley, who directs the color guard. "By setting this over different eras, it allowed us to explore different time periods in popular music as well."
One of the goals of the show, according to the directors, was to perform music that people recognized. The show contains a World War II-era Broadway number ("You'll Never Walk Alone" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel), classic rock from the Vietnam years ("Fortunate Son" by Credence Clearwater Revival, "American Woman" by the Guess Who), an upbeat rocker from the 1980s ("It's the End of the World as We Know It" by R.E.M.), and more recent hits that honor today's veterans ("If You're Reading This" by Tim McGraw and "Coming Home, Part 2" by Skylar Grey).
Known for their elaborate, symphonic-style shows, the Grenada Band hasn't performed rock-and-roll on the field for several years. "From a competitive aspect, the types of shows we've done have many more depths and layers and demands from an individual music standpoint," Presley says. "This year, we just decided, hey, we can be entertaining and we can do these recognizable pieces of music, but we're gonna tie them together in a way that's going to be relevant and still going to have competitive validity."
The directors are also pleased with how the theme of the show exposes students to valuable history lessons. "That's part of how we teach this to them," Presley says. "Along with their music education, they're going to learn why we were drawn into World War II and what Vietnam was about."
The show, told in four movements, presents a broad spectrum of emotions — from fanfare and romance to the tragic third movement, which may tug at some heart strings, and an uplifting, patriotic finale. All in all, the directors wanted to create a show that told a relevant story and spoke to the audience.
"As we were coming up with this, the thing that dawned on us is that there are so many families in this community that deal with this," Presley says. "Even some of these students. This is a real deal for them. They have mothers, fathers, or aunts and uncles, other extended family or friends that have been deployed."
Fans of the award-winning marching band will see the return of many familiar elements: elaborate set pieces, color-guard costume changes (including a tribute to Rosie the Riveter, a symbol of women's changing role in the 1940s workforce), pre-recorded samples, and a high-concept story told through both music and imagery.
The show will be phased in throughout the semester, adding elements each week until their first contest, a regional competition here on October 14.
"It takes time to rehearse these complicated moves, and it's a safety issue with these big props moving on and off the field," Presley says. "We have to make sure every movement is exactly the way it needs to be."
She adds, "This is Grenada, so we definitely don't play it safe. We try and really put it out there, and the kids are awesome about going with us on it. They come to expect that. If we changed our minds and decided to go safe, the kids would be highly disappointed. We really
try to please them … because it's a lot of work. We want to have them learn a whole bunch, become better people, but yet enjoy themselves while they're doing it."
Home audiences will have their first opportunity to see a portion of "If You're Reading This" at the Grenada Chargers' opening home game against Kosciusco Whippets on September 8.
(Photos by Lisa Holand)
Grenada School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, veteran status, or other characteristics protected by law in any of its policies, practices, procedures or program operation. Grenada School District is an equal opportunity employer. For inquiries regarding this policy on discrimination contact: Title IX Coordinator, Mrs. Kim Ezell; ADA/504 Coordinator, Lyle Williams; Grenada School District, 253 S. Main, Grenada, MS 38901; 662-226-1606
Guaranty Bank & Trust Company
Welcome GSD Staff Back to School
Grenada Elementary music teacher Meg Wood (middle) won an Apple Watch at the district's general faculty meeting to start the 2017-2018 school year. Lee Murphy (right) and Misty Carson (left) of Guaranty Bank and Trust, sponsors of the morning reception, presented the grand prize after a drawing. The bank awarded door prizes to nine other faculty members throughout the day.
Freshman Football Cheerleaders
back l to r) Haley Beckwith, Kayla Herrington, Kendyl Jones, Lindsey Ingram, (front l to r) Ja'Kaila Ammons, Lexis Jones, Joy Madkins, and
Varsity Football Cheerleaders
(back l to r) Braylee Shaw, Brooke Little, Taylor Harrell, Kyla Edwards, Molly Brewer, Mia Parker, Abby Williams, Reagan Wooldridge, (middle l to r) Anna Palmer, Kayla Horne, Anna Gray Neely, Jamya Bowdry, Haley Williams, Ebonee Webster, Morgan Banks, (front l to r) Brianna Shaw, Ky'Nija Robinson, Haley Kinard, Jada Bridges, and Lexi Byford