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Board mulls student service, upgrades, construction

The nearly completed “roundabout” on Spirit Drive is expected to smooth the expected increase in traffic when the Freshman Academy opens next school year. There will two more traffic circles built on Lincoln Street in cooperation with the City of Cabot. (Photo by Ed Galucki)Buy Photo
The nearly completed “roundabout” on Spirit Drive is expected to smooth the expected increase in traffic when the Freshman Academy opens next school year. There will two more traffic circles built on Lincoln Street in cooperation with the City of Cabot. (Photo by Ed Galucki)

Cabot School Board members learned at the Nov. 19 meeting that Cabot students have taken up a wide range of community service projects, from tutoring, to clothing collections, to cleaning at the city animal shelter. This list is some of the projects begun though the AP Academy, said Aaron Randolph, director of the gifted and AP program.

Superintendent Tony Thurman and school board members Brian Evans, Ricky Hill, Wendel Msall, Donna Nash and Corey Williams. Board members Mark Russell and Dean Martin were absent.

In the department reports, Randolph reported on the progress of the AP Academy at the high school.

There are now more than 180 students enrolled in the Academy, he said.

One of the key requirements for completing the Academy is for students to develop, on their own, a personal community service project, Randolph said.

Some of the “interesting and great” projects include: doing labs and experiments at the Museum of Discovery; working with the Literacy Project; and tutoring pre-AP students at the junior high schools.

Students are also collecting, sorting and distributing clothing for Safe Haven; and cleaning, fundraising and helping with Web site designing at the Cabot Animal Shelter.

There is a creative writing lab at the Cabot Library and a science lab at the Jacksonville library – including week-long camps for the summer, Randolph said.

Some students are doing volunteer work at the Springcreek Living Center, Greystone Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and working with students at the Air Base Youth Center.

There are some “candystripers” at Arkanas Children’s Hospital and Baptist Medical Center. The students at ACH are having a blanket drive, to collect blankets to give children on discharge from the hospital, Randolph said.

Some senior AP students are working with Middle School South students on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects.

Other students are working with the Broadway Bridge mission, collecting and distributing food and clothing to homeless persons.

Other students are working with health and wellness director Kelly Spencer to promote wellness programs, Randolph said.

All the projects are created and carried out by the students, he said.

Middle and freshman program director Tanya Spillane said she has met with students who have volunteered to serve on student leadership teams at Junior High North and Junior High South.

Following a virtual tour of the Freshman Academy the students gave some “surprising” feedback on aspects of the Academy. They “panned” some ideas as a “waste of money” and suggested changes in other areas, Spillane said.

Wi-fi capability in the courtyard is a popular idea with the students, she said.

School district technology manager Kendal Wells said “serious progress” has been made on making wireless capability available in all the district classrooms, to meet the expected growth in wireless devices.

Wiring has been completed on the elementary and middle schools, the junior and high schools are expected to be complete by the end of the week. The district tech department will install the access points and switches, he said.

The project, which has used almost six miles of wire, is expected to be complete by Christmas, Wells said.

Instructional technology director BJ Brooks said with the project complete the district’s Chromebooks can be better used.

There are now 500 Chromebooks in use in grades K-12, with three junior high classes using them all day, every day, Brooks said.

Deputy superintendent Harold Jeffcoat reported on the progress of district construction projects, displaying pictures of work completed and under way.

Building No. 1 of the Freshman Academy is 90 percent complete, “No problems there,” he said. The science equipment and bathroom fixtures are to be delivered by the end of the week of Nov. 25, with some carpenter and millwork left to be done, he said.

In Area No.1, the last area to be started, 70 percent of the ceiling grid is installed, finish coat of paint is complete, work on the floor tile will begin after the Thanksgiving break, the lab ceramic tile is also nearly done.

“The Main Building is nearly complete,” Jeffcoat said.

In Building No.2, the gym, doors and windows are being installed and the first coat of paint is being applied.

The outside is complete, and the cafeteria and fine arts areas block and brick work is complete; painting is to begin Nov. 25 and the walk-in freezer and cooler is expected to be delivered.

At Ward Central Elementary, the first coat of paint is being applied in the expanded cafeteria; the brickwork is complete, he said.

German teacher Betsy Leopard told of an “exciting” opportunity for Cabot students to take part in the German American Partnership Program (GAPP). It is and exchange program, with German students from the partner school coming to Cabot as well, she said.

The exchange is for 29 days during the summer, Leopard said. “It gets [students] really into the language and culture,” she said.

Students will live with German families and will make presentations in schools about Cabot and the U.S.

Cost of the program is $3,000 per student, and includes a week-long trip to Italy, Leopard said. Transportation, housing and other costs, including insurance, are covered, but students have to provide their own spending money, she said.

The German students are expected at the end of spring break, Leopard said.

Since it is not an official trip, all costs must be met by the students, Leopard said. “The students have to raise the money on their own,” she said.

In other matters, Thurman said the results of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee inspection of school records is complete and successful. He read aloud a portion of the letter from the Committee commending the district for “continued substantial compliance in all areas of fiscal accounting.”

Board members approved an agreement with the City of Cabot to support a fourth school resource officer.

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