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New way of learning: Magnet school welcomes students

Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Social Studies teacher Janice Davis introduces herself to her sixth-grade class Monday on the first day of Robert Lewis Magnet School for STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math.
Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Social Studies teacher Janice Davis introduces herself to her sixth-grade class Monday on the first day of Robert Lewis Magnet School for STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math.

NATCHEZ — What Principal Zandra McDonald saw Monday morning served as a clear affirmation that Natchez was ready for a magnet school.

“We asked parents to drop off students at 7:30 a.m., but they were here ready to go at 7:15 a.m. and parents were even walking their kids in and asking to help out,” McDonald said. “I’m used to the old way of doing things when parents would just pull up and wave their kids goodbye, so I was very excited to see that (Monday) morning.

“It reinforced that this is something different and parents are really buying into it.”

Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Sixth-grader Christian Jackson, 11, center, passes an assignment to a classmate.
Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Sixth-grader Christian Jackson, 11, center, passes an assignment to a classmate.

Robert Lewis Magnet School for STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math — welcomed students Monday for the school’s first day of operation.

All schools in the Natchez-Adams School District also began the new year Monday.

The magnet school, which is housed in the former Robert Lewis Middle School building, offers an applied learning curriculum that encourages children to learn through project-based learning and apply what they’ve learned to real world situations.

Sixth-grade student Kennedy Searcy said she hopes the school’s curriculum will help put her on the right path to eventually succeeding in her dream job.

“I want to be a neurosurgeon,” Searcy said. “I’m hoping to learn a lot at this school.”

Searcy’s classmate, Vinicia Davis, said she was excited for all the science material she would be learning this year at the school.

“Science is my favorite subject, and that’s why I wanted to come to the magnet school,” Davis said. “It’s a perfect fit.”

McDonald said overall the first day at the magnet school was a success as a majority of the classes used the day to go through introductions and go over expectations.

The sixth graders, McDonald said, also memorized a student affirmation speech, which will be recited every morning before classes begin.

“It’s something we came up with during our retreat that’s actually a blend of a lot of different things,” McDonald said. “It represents the commitment that the students have taken to be a part of this school.”

McDonald said she borrowed portions of the affirmation from a TED (technology, entertainment and design) talk video, which is a series of online videos taken from conferences featuring a variety of specialists and other portions from a speech called “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson. Remaining portions were written by the school’s faculty.

“We are all meant to shine. It’s not just in some of us; it is in each one of us,” the affirmation states. “I deserve the best education possible because I have things to do, places to go and people to impress.

“So, I must do my best, give my best, expect the best and be the best.”