Intercession begins with few bumps|Off-week also offers students enrichment time

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A few problems linking school buses with their assigned riders were the only glitches in an otherwise fine first day of intercession Monday for Vicksburg public schools.

“My compliments to the teachers,” said Vicksburg Intermediate principal Sharon Williams. “They rowed with the flow, some of them in a new building, some teaching intercession for the first time. My hat’s off to them. Change is hard, especially in a new location, but they did a good job.”

The extra week

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• A total of 582 elementary students attended intercession classes Monday, 308 in the north and 274 in the south.

• A total of 308 secondary students attended intercession classes Monday, 215 at the junior highs and 93 at the high schools.

• A total of 265 elementary students signed up for enrichment courses.

Vicksburg Intermediate, which shares a campus with Dana Road Elementary, hosts intercession classes for all schools in the south zone of the district, while Warren Central Intermediate at Sherman Avenue holds classes for schools in the north zone.

Both have students in attendance who are not familiar with the school and must take unfamiliar buses and bus routes.

“The biggest thing we’ve been dealing with this morning was transportation,” Williams said as she prepared to coordinate dismissal at noon, an orderly process managed from the gym with teachers and administrators from other schools assisting.

Williams said some students missed their buses and were taken to the school by parents. A few others remained after to get matched with their correct buses.

At WCIS, principal Edward Wiggins was enthusiastic. “We had a wonderful time,” he said. “We had a lot of parent volunteers, the enrichment program is going well, and we had a very good turnout.”

A total of 582 elementary students attended intercession classes Monday — 308 in the north and 274 in the south, said Betsye Holifield in the district office. Academics focused on math and reading, though a breakdown of students in each category was not available. Williams estimated it was “about half and half.”

Fifty teachers and teachers’ assistants were on duty at VIS, and 44 at WCIS, Holifield said.

Intercession classes for Vicksburg’s public school students in grades 3 through 6 are offered following each nine-week marking period. They provide extra help for students who are struggling with “benchmark” skills and understandings, giving them a chance to catch up before moving into increasingly difficult academic material. This is the second year intercession has been offered.

The week of enrichment classes and activities for students who are meeting academic standards is a new feature. Each elementary and intermediate school came up with programs ranging from farm animals to Shakespeare, golf to geography. Students who attend neither intercession nor enrichment have a vacation week.

A total of 265 elementary students signed up for an enrichment course, Holifield said. Those classes are held at the individual schools.

Vicksburg Intermediate offered art and music, combining aspects to produce a stage show.

VIS music teacher Lou Ann Dykes said her enrichment crew of 11 spent Monday practicing the lyrics of songs and working out their own choreography. “Maybe they can be their own little producers someday,” she said, or be inspired to try out for plays in high school.

Asked what they did all morning, fifth-grader Kiara Darden said, “We had fun with Ms. Dykes, singing, dancing and doing some motions.” Kiara, the daughter of Felicia and Tracy Darden, said she planned to spend her afternoon practicing.

The offering of enrichment classes is in some measure an incentive to students, since they have to pass benchmarks to take them, but goes a little further, Williams said.

“One of the little carrots we put in front of them is that if they go to intercession they have to wear their uniforms, but if they take enrichment classes they can wear casual clothes,” she said. “That’s the golden ticket, especially at this age — fifth and sixth grade.”

Intercession classes are also being held at the junior high and high schools. Holifield said 35 students from Warren Junior and 180 from Vicksburg Junior attended Monday. Sixty-six students from Warren Central High School and 27 from Vicksburg High School went to intercession classes.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at