Picayune School Board of Trustees hears Christmas cheer

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2017

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Picayune School District’s Board of Trustees, Board members heard a Christmas performance from the high school’s chorus, received a presentation about elementary students applying for a grant and heard about an elementary school’s advancement in a technology contest.

Picayune Memorial High School’s Chorus sang three songs for the Board, two were traditional holiday songs, while the third was a folk song from a foreign culture that included the use of simple instruments.

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Next, the Board heard a presentation from 15 students in West Side’s gifted program who attended the meeting. The students are all either in fifth or sixth grade, but were directly involved in applying for a grant that would ultimately be used to establish an outside classroom at the school’s pavilion.

Six students then read from a presentation that outlined their efforts to effectively apply for the grant, which included extensive research into the tools and items needed to establish the outdoor classroom, how it would effectively be used to teach children about nature and how it could be tied into the District’s science curriculum.

The name of their project is Cultivating Critical Thinkers with Outdoor Provocations.

Students and personnel of the school will find out if they received the grant by mid January.

West Side gifted teacher and STEM coordinator Alicia Verweij said the school’s robotics program is in full swing. In the program, students learn about electricity and how robots and other computers are programmed. To join the school’s robotics team comprised of 12 students, each applicant has to submit a three-paragraph essay, not have any disciplinary referrals and maintain a B average in math and science. She recently raised $2,325 in funds to help pay for the program, which will utilize hands on projects that will include building simple electrical circuits. Eventually, students will make their own video game using special software.  The program also allows students to learn about math by measuring distances that they will program into simple robots.

Nicholson Elementary gifted teacher Maureen Pollitz told the Board that the school’s project submission to the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow made it to the state finals and will now compete with several high schools to determine whether it will move on to the next level.

The school’s submission involves the installation of electronic stabilizers on semi trucks in an effort to reduce fatal collisions on interstates.

Pollitz said that even if the project does not proceed past the state level, the students plan to submit their idea to the Mississippi and Louisiana departments of transportation for review.

In other business, the Board approved a motion to hold meetings once per month at 5:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month from now on.

The next Board meeting will be Jan. 9.