New Stage Theatre Provides Performances for New Albany Schools

New Stage Theatre, a professional theatre located in Jackson, Mississippi, presented in-school performances of The Selfish Giant and Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad to students in the New Albany School District on February 16-17.

New Albany Elementary School hosted two performances of The Selfish Giant on Thursday, February 16.  Oscar Wilde’s classic children’s story about The Selfish Giant who wouldn’t share his beautiful garden becomes a joyous play that touches on themes of friendship, empathy, sharing, and kindness. The giant comes home from a long trip to find children playing in his garden. He kicks them out, threatening to bring them to justice for trespassing. But a harsh winter—in the form of comic characters Frost, Snow, and North Wind—brings the realization to the giant that the children who used to trespass in his garden implanted friendship in this special place. The giant’s heart melts in a life-changing moment, and spring, along with the children, returns to his garden.

Oh Freedom!  The Story of the Underground Railroad was presented to New Albany Middle School and New Albany High School students on Friday, February 17.  The greatest collaboration against racism in American history, before the Civil Rights Movement, was the Underground Railroad. People of all ethnic backgrounds, of both sexes, and from North and South came together to resist the oppression of slavery by helping escaped slaves make their way to free territory in the years before the Civil War. Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad celebrates these alliances by combining the many stories with songs of the period. Famous participants like Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe are represented as well as lesser known heroes of the movement like John Rankin, whose house on a hill was a beacon for freedom; the mysterious “Peg Leg” Joe who moved among the plantations teaching slaves to escape and “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a song designed to show them the way; and Henry “Box” Brown who had himself put in a box and mailed to freedom. The production will encourage student audience participation in the singing of traditional spiritual, “Oh, Freedom.” The story inspires all to work together for the good of all as it celebrates a time when Americans were at their courageous best, supporting one another—regardless of background, ethnicity or gender—in the cause to extend to all Americans our greatest, most inalienable right: freedom.

New Stage Theatre is a professional not-for-profit theatre.  New Stage Theatre’s Arts-in-Education tours are supported, in part, by Entergy, the Chisholm Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi, and the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Local School Districts to Celebrate School Board Member Recognition Week

The New Albany and Union County School Districts will join districts across the state to thank school board members during School Board Member Recognition Week, February 12-18, for their leadership and service to local school districts and communities.

“This week is a special opportunity to express our gratitude for the hard work of our school board members and to thank them for their dedication to this community and its children,” said Jackie Ford, Superintendent of New Albany Schools.

More than 750 Mississippians are members of local school boards.  School Boards are responsible for setting the vision and goals for the district. They work to provide a quality education for students in grades K-12 and to oversee the districts’ annual budgets. The school board also hires quality educators, sets district goals, adopts policies, and evaluates progress while keeping the interests of our students first. They also serve as the community’s voice in the school district and the district’s voice in the community.

“As school leaders, board members play an important role in engaging our community in supporting our public schools,” said Ken Basil, Superintendent of Union County Schools.

During School Board Member Recognition Week in Mississippi, the New Albany and Union County School Districts invite students, staff and community members to take part in honoring board members.

Serving the New Albany School District:  Jill Shaw, President; Brad Clayton; Penny Blissett; and David Rainey.

Serving the Union County School District:  Mickey Basil, President; Daphnia McMillen; Wayne Mahon; Terry Cook; and Mike Browning.

NAHS Student Wins MCEF Video Contest

Michelle Luo
Michelle Luo

Michelle Luo, a sophomore at New Albany High School (NAHS), is the first place winner in a video contest sponsored by the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation (MCEF).   Luo, a journalism student, discovered the contest online and approached her journalism teacher LeeAnn Thompson and Construction Instructor about the possibility of developing a video for the MCEF Contest.

The purpose of the contest was to develop videos that highlighted the many ways that construction and manufacturing education programs are helping students achieve their goals, as well as increase the knowledge of how these programs are building the future of Mississippi’s workforce.

Luo explained that the video promoted the Career and Technical Center and brought more awareness to the construction program, as well as opportunities in the field of construction.  She said that she was pleased with the fact that the video brought recognition to not only her as an individual but to the school.  Luo explained that she wrote interview questions, did research, filmed, and edited the video with support from Robbins.  She was assisted by fellow journalism student Madison Graham who helped with more of the creativity side of building the video.

Although quality and content was a consideration for the judges, the votes and shares she received were what helped Luo to win.  Voting began on November 11 and continued for three days.  Then, additional votes were received through “shares” on the MCEF Facebook page.  Thompson was very instrumental in promoting her video once it was completed and the voting process started.

Thompson emailed teachers and ask them to both vote and spread the word about the contest.  She also worked with administrators and school staff to promote voting on the video through the school district’s Twitter announcements.   “Everyone got to know Michelle through the homecoming video project #SaveChandler that the journalism class did in September,” Thompson said.   “That project helped to build her a fan base.”  Luo was instrumental in writing the script, filming, editing, and producing that video for homecoming.

Thompson said that one of the things that made her the most proud during this project was how the students came together during the voting to promote Michelle and her video.  John Wright Welborn, a journalism student with Michelle, said that “it was truly a team effort and that many of the students at NAHS were contacting friends and family from other areas of the state, as well as former NAHS graduates to get votes for her.”

Robbins who is excited that his program was promoted throughout the project and the voting says he is impressed with Luo as a student and respects her “creativity, initiative, organization, determination, and intelligence”.


Dean Provence Endowment Winners Announced

Pictured L-R: Endowment Board Representative Carrie Rogers, Jalon Bullock, Chris Russell, Anita Alef, Nannette Ballard, Endowment Board President Keith Conlee
Pictured L-R: Endowment Board Representative Carrie Rogers, Jalon Bullock, Chris Russell, Anita Alef, Nannette Ballard, Endowment Board President Keith Conlee
Front Row l-r: Teresa Ohler, Tiffany Thrasher, Bridget Spencer, Neely Robertson, Amber Peters, Tameri Dunnam; back row l-r: Endowment Board Representative Chandler Rogers, Endowment Board Representative Carrie Rogers, Penny Logan, Tammie Dodds, Julie Hatcher, Susan Kelly, April Hobson, Lori Henson, Lisa Skinner, Julia Harrington, Endowment Board President Keith Conlee, Jordan Murry.

The Dean Provence Endowment for Excellence in Education Board has announced the allocation of funds totaling nearly $11,700 to teachers in the New Albany School District (NASD). In an effort to maximize the effectiveness of the awards, this year grants were directed to New Albany Elementary School and the New Albany School of Career & Technical Education.  Endowment funding will be used for equipment and materials in the classroom that are not typically covered by the school budget.

The Endowment for Excellence in Education was begun in 1986 as the vision of School Board member Dean Provence. Provence, a New Albany native, was an active volunteer in both school and community activities. Through his volunteer efforts, he recognized the need for additional funding in the schools for projects and classroom materials, and was instrumental in establishing the endowment fund. Following his death, the locally supported endowment fund was renamed in memory of Provence and has continued to provide needed funding to classrooms in the New Albany Schools for more than twenty-five years. Since 1986, the Endowment has provided approximately $347,000 in support to the NASD.

The endowment is funded through individual and corporate contributions and fundraising events sponsored by the Endowment Board. Contributions to the Dean Provence Endowment for Excellence in Education are accepted throughout the year and may be mailed to New Albany Schools, Attention: Melanie Anderson, 301 Hwy. 15 North, New Albany, MS 38652.

Project — Applicant — Amount Awarded

STEM Activities, Tameri Dunnam, $974.85

Character Chronicles, April Hobson, $683.05

Shoebox Task for Learning, Susan Kelly, $325.00

Lister & Learn Phonics, Kindergarten Teachers, $3,280.00

Phonemic Awareness Software, Bridget Spencer, $129.00

Library Enhancement, Lisa Skinner, $2,835.36

Learning History through Literature, Teresa Ohler, $751.92

Kinesthetic Classroom, Amber Peters, $245.56

Selling, Alison Moore, $119.95

Filming a Commercial, Alison Moore, $104.33

Parrot Drone Flight Coding, Jalon Bullock, $609.89

Teaching to Use Mounted Cameras, Chris Russell, $649.00

Consequences of Obesity, Nannette Ballard, $495.00

Guiding Children’s Behavior, Nannette Ballard, $60.00

Stand Up Mixer, Anita Alef, $400.00