Some years are uneventful and pass with little fanfare. And then there are years like 2017.
By the calendar, it wasn't a leap year, but for Grenada School District, last year definitely represented a giant leap forward.
It started off with Grenada being named a District of Innovation by the Mississippi Board of Education. We were selected, among very few other state districts, for our formal plans to conduct more forward-thinking curriculum. This distinction has already allowed us special exemption from certain state regulations, especially in our integration of advanced strategies into our science classes.
Our implementation of advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) strategies through Project Lead the Way has seen tremendous results. Middle school and high school students are now being trained in such cutting edge classes as design and engineering, biomedical science, and robotics. The program will expand this year in first through sixth grades.
To establish a more updated learning environment for our advanced Project Lead the Way curriculum, we built two new labs at the high school — one for engineering and one for biomedical. Phase one of an extensive high school renovation took place last summer, which reflects a more modern, professional aesthetic.
Meanwhile at the elementary school, we expanded our Pre-K program. Early test results for four-year-old students completing the class have been astounding, and we raised the bar with the state's first three-year-old Pre-K class. Watch for further expansions of these early learning programs in the near future.
And finally, we received our accountability grades from the Mississippi Department of Education. Grenada earned a grade of B and a ranking of 40th out of 147 other state school districts. We've used the data to close learning gaps and redouble our efforts.
Following this reflection on our district's many proud achievements in 2017, it's time to get back to the drawing board and push ahead. We're developing new programs and forming new relationships to give our students the best educational experience possible.
Here are just a few of the exciting things we're looking forward to this semester at Grenada Schools:
The Arts Center
The district recently purchased a house behind the bus yard, and our crackerjack construction team has completed renovations. (Read the story on page 7 of this issue.) This will be the new home for the GHS art department, headed up by Melissa Taylor, who has done a remarkable job teaching visual arts. Her students have held multiple exhibits to showcase their paintings and pottery, and we anticipate the program to grow with this new dedicated space. Watch for adult night classes in the future.
Due to dramatic student interest, we're expanding the culinary arts program at the Grenada Career and Technical Center. Construction begins in early 2018 on a new classroom kitchen with work stations to provide even more in-depth, hands-on learning for students. Once things get up and running, we hope to open classes to adults as well.
Modine, the local manufacturer of heating and cooling systems, has committed to enhancing our welding program at GCTC. They've already begun updating the welding shop with new equipment and lighting to teach brazing, a specialized metal-joining process that will prepare students for this specialized trade. We're excited and thankful for Modine's extraordinary commitment, which will help train a local work force when the program gets up and going later this year.
Integrated Marketing Communication
This spring GHS will expand its journalism program by launching a dual-credit class with the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism. This unique class blends online learning with on-site instruction from Ole Miss journalism professor R.J. Morgan. Students will earn high school credit for Marketing Essentials as well as college credit for the Meek School's introductory class Integrated Marketing Communications, which provides an introduction to advertising, public relations, and brand management.
Future Problem Solvers
One of the most innovative programs at the Grenada Elementary Green Top School is Future Problem Solvers International. Fourth and fifth grade students use critical thinking skills to research and develop creative solutions to large-scale, real-world problems. Mrs. Frankie Fortier and Ms. Muffett McPhail coach the teams, which compete against each other to confront hypothetical scenarios set 20-30 years in the future. Teams from all over the state meet each year to test their problem-solving skills in the Mississippi Affiliate Bowl, which Grenada Elementary is proud to host for the first time on March 1-2.
We hope 2018 brings good fortune to our community. Please know that we'll continue to work hard cultivating the young minds of Grenada and striving to bring about the next great leap forward.
Grandparents Day Open House
Goes Down Under for Christmas
By Jamie Kornegay
The annual Grandparents Day Open House at GES fell on December 15, and organizers say it was one of the most well-attended events they'd held in the Kidzeum's history.
Grandparents lined up in the foyer and out the front doors of Grenada Elementary, eager to get inside and tour Down Under with their grandchildren. After signing in, they waited in the library for their grandkids, who showed up with plenty of hugs and kisses.
The tour started with the elementary book fair in the gymnasium. Everyone milled around tables and shelves arranged with books, toys, and games. Kids demonstrated their new reading skills, and grandparents couldn't resist purchasing early Christmas presents.
Next it was on to the Kidzeum to tour this year's holiday exhibit, "Christmas in Australia." Director Beth Muselwhite stood out front and welcomes everyone with a cheerful, "G'day, mates!" Grenada School District superintendent Dr. David Daigneault and Principal Raleigh Wood greeted guests too, crouching down to hug the little ones and shaking hands with grandparents.
The atmosphere inside was festive with plenty of holiday decorations, all done up with Australian flair. Surfboards and sunglasses replaced sleds and snowmen. Local pianist Mo Hubbard performed jazzy Christmas carols to the side.
The tour began in the Kidzeum kitchen, where everyone received a "biscuit," the Australian term for cookie. The visitors filed around and took photos in front of the tall Australian-themed Christmas tree, adorned with colored lights, sunglasses, boomerangs, and "thongs," which is the Australian term for flip-flops.
Along the way, they stopped to inspect the plush marsupials — kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies, all unique to Australia. Students toured their grandparents around, sharing what they'd learned about Australian phrases and Christmas traditions.
"Some grandparents told me the children had already told them three weeks ago about this exhibit and how they knew everything about Australia," Muselwhite said.
After touring the Australian exhibit, guests exited through the Piggly Wiggly, the simulated grocery store full of plastic fruits and vegetables and canned good where kids sometimes make "purchases" to learn about everything from counting money to phonetics. Some even pre-ordered the new Kidzeum t-shirts, which will be available in February.
The annual Grandparents Day has been a favorite for 15 years. Grandparents come from far and wide to take part. "They love the school, and it puts a smile on their grand baby's face," said Mr. Wood.
"In August we start getting calls asking
when Grandparents Day will be,"
said Muselwhite. "They actually plan their vacation and holiday events around it."
The open house always revolves around their holiday exhibit, which explores Christmas customs from various cultures. The staff gave out recipes for pavlova, a popular Christmastime meringue-based dessert in Australia.
"All the recipes and cookies were gone before we had a chance to count," said Muselwhite. "It just seems like there were so many more grandparents this year than normal."
The "Red Top" library had a successful book fair. A portion of the proceeds goes to keeping the library's inventory fresh and full, as well as supplies for the many library activities students perform during their visits.
Mr. Wood said that often the
principals and local volunteers will go into classrooms and get students who don't have grandparents living nearby. "We want as many kids as possible to be able to share in the fun."
After the open house, Muselwhite was busy dismantling the grand Christmas tree and Australian decor, making way for next year's first exhibit, The Night Sky. Elementary students will make three visits to the Kidzeum this winter to learn about outer space, the constellations, and even experience the Star Lab, a miniature planetarium that has been a Kidzeum favorite in years past.
See the video, "Grandparents Day at Grenada Elementary School," at our YouTube channel, bit.ly/GSpresents
Brianna Harris (front)and Ophal Tedford
Richard LaMantia, Madison Hobbs, and Betty LaMantia
Chasity White, Addyson White, and Jean Hogan
Bella Cruz Gober and Rita Gober (back)
Aden Dickerson and
John Vooker (back)
Joe Ward and Emma Grace Rocha
Griffin Garrard and Carter Reid Garrard
21st Century Teaches Photoshop Skills
Jamia Collins chose to put herself in the leaves for her "tiny person" project.
The project "Make Yourself Fly" created a lively discussion.
Breanna Elliott chose to "fly" with Superman.
Taylor House was inspired by her love of wolves to create this sweatshirt design.
By Jamie Kornegay
Kids these days are expected to be more intuitive about computers and technology than their elders.
They may be comfortable navigating websites and searching up movies and music, but 21st Century skills instructor Robbie Buchanan has discovered that such basic tasks as copying and pasting text are completely foreign to a lot of students.
In her extra-curricular Photoshop class, Buchanan teaches middle school students some of the tools of computer graphic design. They learn how to move and set type, how to capture video and digital photographs, and how to create photo illustrations by manipulating color and content. She says the kids in this after-school class are learning a lot and having a blast.
"It's supposed to be fun," Buchanan said. "It's not for a grade. We want to give them something to look forward to, which is the best way to keep kids in school."
The 21st Century program at Grenada Schools was designed to expose students to new skills and potential career paths. The class started ten years ago with funds from a 21st Century grant awarded by the Mississippi Department of Education.
In addition to after-school tutoring, the 21st Century program offers skills classes — which include podcasting, pottery, culinary arts, carpentry, automotive repair, urban agriculture/archery, and, of course, Photoshop — that make the Grenada Career and Technical School a buzzing hive of extra-curricular instruction on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.
During most sessions, you'll find Buchanan's class of eight sitting at their Apple computers, working in the Photoshop program. They may also be designing movies on iPads or taking photos in front of a large green screen, which allows them to swap out the background with anything they can imagine.
Jamia Collins, an eighth grader at Grenada Middle School, has been enjoying the class. She enjoys taking photos of people and nature and has learned to load her images into Photoshop, where she can improve and change them. "I get to make it my own," she said.
Seventh grader Taylor House became interested in the class because her mother uses Photoshop at work. She enjoys dropping photos of herself into different settings. "It's like going into another world," she said. She looks forward to creating digital art when she gets older. "I can do my art on paper and then customize it in Photoshop."
Breanna Elliott, seventh grade, is taking the Photoshop class for the second year in a row. In addition to superimposing her photo onto different scenes, she likes creating her own designs and applying them to keychains and necklaces.
Buchanan said the kids had the most fun making Christmas presents for parents, siblings, and teachers. Each student made seven to eight gifts, ranging from t-shirts and aprons to bags and candles, all imprinted with their own designs.
Still to come this year, Buchanan plans to introduce the students to robots and basic coding as well as stop-motion animation.
"They're learning patience and perseverance too," she said. "Sometimes they get a little frustrated trying to learn the program because it can be difficult. But when we start making things like t-shirts and gifts, they can really see what the results of what they've learned."
Buchanan said, "One student was so happy after we finished making Christmas presents, she said, 'And I thought this was going to be a boring class!'"
Member of the Month
By Gwen Woodson
Keon Townes joined AmeriCorps to make an impact on students' lives and to help them achieve academic excellence. Her goal is to improve their reading and math scores.
"AmeriCorps has had a positive impact on my life," said Townes. "Serving is what I love to do and making an influence in children's lives has changed my life. I think being a positive role model and telling children they can do whatever they dream of doing helps the children strive to do better. Hearing stories of children's dreams, and what they would like to become when they grow up, has inspired me to go back to school and get my masters in social work. I also have gained skills that will enhance my career. The teachers here in the district have encouraged me to keep working hard and to do my best. That encouragement flows to the students through me."
Townes is the mother of Kevondria Steele, a ninth grade student at Grenada High School.
Townes graduated from Grenada High School in 2002 and Holmes Community College in 2012 with an associate's degree in social work/ sociology. In May 2014, she graduated with her bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Mississippi.
Townes was selected to serve as team leader this year because she embodies the spirit of leadership. She volunteers for almost every project and ensures that the project is completed to my expectations. I love her professionalism and her commitment to "Getting Things Done."
In exchange for a year of service, AmeriCorps members earn an education award of $5,815 that can be used to pay for college or to pay back qualified student loans. Townes plans to use her education award to return to the University of Mississippi to get her master's degree in social work.
According to Townes, her experience as a second-year member has taught her to stay humble and focused. She said, "I have learned that every student in the elementary school is not on the same reading and math levels and helping the students stay focused will help change their lives."
Grenada Middle School Students of the Month
Sixth grade Students of the Month for December
Seventh Grade students of the Month
Eighth Grade students of the Month
GES Green Top Celebrates Veteran's Day
Kate Cobb, Blakely Kirk, Lylah Kate Burnett
A'lante Hubbard and Darshi Kher participated in the parade with posters and smiles.
Mary Mitchell Hill, Marlow Bean
GES Green Top celebrated Veteran's Day with a parade around the school grounds.