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Students out, workers in: Private schools busy preparing for new year

JUSTIN SELLERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Hendrick White watches as concrete pours from a truck to be used in the floor of a restroom at Cathedral Elementary School Monday.
JUSTIN SELLERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Hendrick White watches as concrete pours from a truck to be used in the floor of a restroom at Cathedral Elementary School Monday.

NATCHEZ — The last school bell of the year didn’t mean the same thing for school administrators and staff as it did for students.

Natchez school administrators are working through the summer on curriculum changes, new programs and building renovations — all while students enjoy the break.

Trinity Episcopal Day School

Administrators and faculty at Trinity are working this summer to launch a new global initiative study program in the fall that they hope will broaden student’s horizons of other cultures, while also preparing them to compete in a global marketplace, Head of School Les Hegwood said.

“We want students to sit down with people from different places and feel a shared nest and have that cultural empathy,” Hegwood said. “On the surface, people think Natchez is a certain kind of place, but we can dig deeper and find people who are already here who can share a wealth of information.”

Latin and history teacher Linda Rodriguez is working to establish a pen pal program for first- through fourth-grade students, in which each grade would communicate with students from Australia, Spain, Argentina and Sweden.

“The goal is for these students to grow up together, so by the time they get to the eighth grade, their pen pals could travel here or they could travel to see them,” Rodriguez said. “If they keep that relationship going, then by the time they’re in high school, they could work on solving a problem or project together and then travel to solve it together.”

Hegwood said the global initiative studies go hand-in-hand with the school’s overall goal of promoting service learning for students to apply what they’re learning to real-world situations.

“We want to get our culture at the school more focused on those academic behaviors that will lead to success in the future,” Hegwood said. “Not only that, but also instilling the ethical and moral behavior that will allow them to be leaders and servants in our community.”

Cathedral High School

Renovations to several buildings on Cathedral’s campus are currently under way and will be finished by the beginning of the school year, chief administrator and high school principal Pat Sanguinetti said.

The work is part of a campaign that was launched in February to expand the school’s campus with a new middle school building, a new athletic field house facility, state-of-the-art science labs and refurbished restrooms.

The goal of the campaign, which is titled, “Our Children, Our Tradition, Our Future,” is to help move the school forward to provide the students with more science, technology, engineering and math programs.

“Right now, we’re gutting and renovating the chemistry and biology labs, as well as two elementary bathrooms and two high school bathrooms,” Sanguinetti said. “We have to be ready come August.”

Apart from physical alternations to the school, Sanguinetti said administrators and teachers have also been traveling to Jackson to work on changes to the school’s curriculum to align it with Common Core State Standards. Common Core standards are a set of nationally adopted standards aimed at coordinating what students learn from state to state.

“We started last year with math and science,” Sanguinetti said. “This year, it’s language arts and religion, and next year I’m assuming it will be social studies.

“We’re just focused on making sure we have no gaps in our curriculum, and that we’re teaching what the students need to know.”

Adams County Christian School

Renovations to the ACCS campus and curriculum are atop headmaster David King’s priority list for the summer.

“Obviously we’re in the business of educating children, and education is the most important thing each school should be about, but you also want the campus to look good when people arrive,” King said. “We’re completely remodeling our cafeteria and upgrading all of our athletic facilities and just improving on some areas that have been neglected in the past.”

King said he and his staff are working to revamp the school’s handbook and curriculum to introduce new initiative to focus in on certain aspects of learning.

“We noticed that our children in elementary school were not reading as much as we would have liked them to be, so we’re working on a new reading initiative to help improve that,” King said. “There’s a lot of curriculum instruction work being done, and we’re just really excited about changing some things up to improve this place even more.”