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South Side Upper teacher selected to receive grant

South Side Upper Elementary soon will have its own news network that will feature news by kids, for kids.

Kristen Wheat, a fifth grade teacher at the school, recently received a $1,500 grant from the Hancock Bank Leo W. Seal Teacher Recognition Award. Wheat said she was nominated by an anonymous person for the award.

Wheat said she plans to use the money to create the program for her students in order “to give them a real world application to what we do here in class.” She plans to start the Kid’s News Network which will be entirely conducted by students.

Her project will begin by auditioning students for each part — including anchor, editor, and all the other positions that go along with a closed circuit news station. Students will report on local events to the entire school.

Kid’s News Network will focus on enhancing student’s math and language skills and teach them to work as a team. Students also will be required to learn about the difference between fact and opinion, Wheat said.

Cristy Walker, Hancock Bank community relations representative and marketing officer, said the money comes from the Gulf Coast Foundation and winners are chosen by a committee. About 100 proposal entries are initially accepted and the committee picks ten of those. Full proposals are requested and out of those five are selected to receive the grant.

The five winners not only receive the grant for use at the school, but also receive $100 and a unique pewter apple trophy of their own, Walker said.

The grant is to be used within a year and after that year, the winners attend a luncheon where they present what they accomplished with their grant to the next year’s grant winners, Walker said.

Wheat said she plans to continue the Kid’s News Network after that first year by writing for other grants, since the school district’s budget is not likely to have money for the project.

Kid’s News Network is expected to indirectly reach 365 students at the school and directly reach the 20 students in her class, Wheat said.