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Schools awarded for involving students in bypass studies


Jason Browne



Two Columbus Municipal School District schools were recognized by the Federal Highway Administration Monday for "exceptional human environment stewardship." 


Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School and Hunt Intermediate School were both presented the awards, along with the Brandon Central Services Center, during the district''s August meeting of the board of trustees. The schools worked in concert with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Neel Schaffer Engineers and Columbus engineers during a yearlong pilot project to learn about the processes of environmental surveys and engineering considerations utilized in planning the proposed Highway 82 bypass. 


"The students did hands-on activities with planners and engineers. Worked with compasses, computers, aerial photography and map skills," said Hunt Principal Tamela Barr. 


After multiple visits from highway authorities and engineers, the students designed and built model roads which were displayed at the Trotter Convention Center. 


"The Federal Highway Administration wanted to recognize the district for involving students in that process," said Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips. 


After recognizing the principal of each school with a plaque from the highway administration, the board approved several mandatory state and federal programs. Included in these were Mississippi Department of Education policies on cyber bullying and student bullying, and two programs mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Education for Homeless Children and Youth and Limited English Proficiency Instruction. 


The board also entered into a partnership agreement with Institute of Community Services, or ICS, to place 60 students in the pre-kindergarten program, purchased a new elementary reading program and accepted a $1,000 library grant from the Society for American Baseball Research. 


"This competition is open throughout the U.S. This is the first time two schools in different districts but in the same area, Lee Middle School and West Lowndes Elementary, have been chosen to receive donations. It will probably never happen again," said board member Glenn Lautzenhiser of the grant. 


The Baseball Research grants were awarded after each applying school developed an educational program highlighting Negro League baseball and its role in American history. 


Lee Middle School''s project, "Step Up To the Plate," includes "a web quest kickoff, a bookmark contest, a baseball card contest, read-aloud sessions, parent visitation day, poetry writing and special guests." 


West Lowndes Elementary''s project, "Batter Up! Reader Up!," invites high school and college baseball players "to speak at the school along with the creation of a West Lowndes Elementary Baseball Hall of Fame, a door decorating contest, read-aloud sessions, and activities in all classes, such as writing a new verse to ''Take Me Out To the Ballgame'' or finding batting averages for their favorite Negro League players." 


The $1,000 grants will be used to implement the learning programs. 


The brief 30-minute meeting ended after the board completed a survey for the Mississippi School Board Association which asked districts to rank in order of importance the issues it felt should receive the most attention from MSBA lobbyists. The board''s top recommendation was the full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.




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