Mr. Bullock’s STEM class has been learning code using the Sphero. Today they played soccer with them.
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.
Interest groups are a new concept to New Albany High School (NAHS) this school year. There’s a thirty minute slot of time each day, excluding Fridays, when students can attend an interest group session. Sessions include club interests, school news, ping pong, diversity, fossils, Science Olympiad, and fishing, just to name a few.
There’s a unique interest group at NAHS that has been exposed to virtual field trips and a recent field trip to Nashville. This group of students meets with the counselors on a regular basis to pursue their interest in the selective college admissions process.
NAHS Counselor Kalee Stanton explained that the school staff wants to expose students to the selective college admissions process and Ivy League schools, as well as increase the number of students who apply to these schools each year.
The counselors surveyed students in the gifted and accelerated English classes to gain information on students who may be interested in the selective college admissions process.
Students had the opportunity to skype with an admissions counselor from Duke during the fall semester. Recently this group of students traveled to Vanderbilt University in Nashville to tour the campus and meet with an admissions counselor.
Throughout the year, these students have spent time during their interest group being exposed to common college applications, understanding the importance of essay development, and learning more about financial aid opportunities. “During our time together, the students have also learned how important it is to develop their leadership skills, increase their community service commitment, and to continue developing good citizenship qualities,” Stanton added.
“We are very proud of these students and their commitment to academic excellence,” said NAHS Principal Lance Evans. “It is our hope that we have equipped these students with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their future college plans.”
Amber Peters, a second grade teacher at New Albany Elementary School, has implemented a flexible seating arrangement into her classroom this year. The seating arrangement includes rocking game chairs, exercise balls, a couch, a cushioned chair, and carpet spots.
This month, Peters has been able to add two pedal desks to her arrangement thanks to funding from the Dean Provence Endowment for Education in Excellence grant program for teachers.
Peters says that she has read several articles about the different flexible seating options that are available, as well as the benefits of flexible seating in a classroom. “Most of the research shows a slight improvement in student behavior and attention,” she stated.
If you were to visit this second grade classroom, you would notice a chart taking up a portion of the whiteboard. This chart lets students know where they will sit for the day. “My students are definitely excited about where they will sit each day. It gives them something to look forward to,” Peters said. I think they feel more at home, because most of the seats are relaxed. I believe there is an excitement to be at school which does spill over and help keep the students motivated to learn.”
When asked if she had noticed an increase in the improvement of behavior, Peters said that she had not had any discipline referrals or major discipline issues this year. She did add that she has had to spend a small amount of time dealing with students who are having difficulty handing certain seating arrangements. She has kept a few standard classroom desks in her room when instances such as this arise.
Flexible seating in the classroom is something Peters plans to continue next school year and is excited to see how a new class of students will respond to concept.