September 29, 2010 10:40:00 AM
Franklin Academy was awhirl with activity Tuesday morning -- literally. The University of Mississippi Medical Center''s MedEvac helicopter landed in the Magnolia Bowl, a strong symbol of the landing of a partnership between the Jackson medical center and the Columbus elementary school.
On hand were Dan Jones, chancellor of the University of Mississippi; Dr. James Keeton, the vice chancellor and head of UMMC, who grew up in Columbus and attended Franklin; and other dignitaries including state representatives and senators.
UMMC students were also there for a "health fair" with Franklin students, who are in kindergarten through fifth grades.
Keeton spoke of closing the health disparity in Mississippi, whose childhood obesity and diabetes rates far outpace the rest of the nation. Jasmine Taylor, the university''s associate vice chancellor for multicultural affairs, spoke of "a healthier future for the state of Mississippi."
However, officials were short on specifics of what the partnership with Franklin, the state''s first health sciences and wellness magnet school, will actually mean. We hope there''s some steak along with all the sizzle we saw Tuesday morning.
That''s not to say we''re not enthusiastic about the magnet school concept introduced by Superintendent Del Phillips. The city''s elementary schools have been transformed. Giving students, and parents, the choice to decide whether they want their education accented with the arts, or medicine, aerospace, international studies, or communication has breathed new life into the schools, and opened students'' eyes to careers and opportunities they may not have thought of before.
We do hope, when the cameras are trained elsewhere, that the medical center will take a meaningful role in helping move Franklin more toward its medical and wellness focus, and help its students unlock their full potential.