U.S. Army Corps of Engineers renews school adoption

Published 7:24 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District continued its commitment to helping Sherman Avenue Elementary School Wednesday, renewing its school adoption contract with school officials.

Although the district adopted the school about 10 years ago, it is required to have an adoption signing ceremony annually, said Shirley Smith, Vicksburg District public affairs specialist and the district’s community relations coordinator.

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“Even though we are adopting the same school, we must have the adoption signing ceremony, which is a meeting between our commander, Col. Michael Derosier, and the principal, some of the school faculty members and staff, and some of the Adopt-A-School members at the district,” she said.

After the adoption certificate was signed, Smith said, school officials met with the Vicksburg District’s adoption committee members to discuss how the district can assist the school during the year.

“We prepare a plan and present it to the school. Most of the time it’s based on the previous year’s plan and used a guide. The plan is either added to, or some tasks removed or replaced.”

In the past, Smith said, the Vicksburg District has provided mentors to students and tutors.

“Each year, we provide science fair judges, reading fair judges; we have beautified the landscape around the school, and provided readers each year since the Read Across America Program was implemented.”

Derosier, she said, went to the school to lead the students in the Pledge of Allegiance on Veterans Day, “and we have even assisted with the fundraisers for the playground equipment and participated in Earth Day activities.”

“We try to fill any task the school might ask us to assist them with. One year, we assisted with building a health station, which was two-day health fair. It was like a maze, where the students go in and out from one station to the next. We cannot donate money, because we are a federal agency, but can provide available resources.”

Besides providing resources, Sherman Avenue Elementary principal Dr. Tameka Davis said, having the district adopt Sherman Avenue helps expose students to more science, technology, engineering and math.

“This year, we’re doing thematic units, and the Corps is going to support us in that; they’re going to supply us with the resources needed to help students have a hands-on approach to their learning,” she said.

Thematic units, Davis said, is a program where subjects are taught based on a monthly theme, and each week is centered around support for that theme. “This supports the career academies at the high schools.”

District volunteers, she said, come to the school to work with the students on various projects, “And one of the big projects we want to do is have them come out and help build a boat for the front of the building.”

“I want the project to be as realistic as possible, and I want to see if we can get the actual material a boat is made of. I really want them to have a realistic approach to their learning and with project-based learning it’s a great way to introduce the math part of STEM, talking about angles and how much material will be needed.

“We want them to help us with projects to provide a guiding hand.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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