Butterflies to flutter at Morgantown

Published 12:18 am Friday, September 9, 2011

NATCHEZ — Morgantown Elementary School students should soon be able to learn firsthand about the science of the cycle of life as cocoons morph into butterflies within the school’s walls.

The Natchez-Adams School Board unanimously approved at Thursday’s regular meeting the creation of a butterfly garden on the school’s campus called a “life learning lab,” at the request of the Interim Superintendent Joyce Johnson and Morgantown Principal Alyson Bequette.

A transformation of the atrium in the fifth-grade wing to a learning lab will be made possible though a partnership with Alcorn State University’s Department of Agriculture, Mississippi State University Entomology and the local Master Gardeners, Bequette said.

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“The fifth-and sixth-grade science (students) study life cycles and habitats, and (the lab will provide) a wonderful opportunity for project-based learning,” Bequette said.

And since the universities are willing to provide the supplies, including 11 “butterfly kits” for students, the district can sustain the low-cost butterfly garden over time, she said.

Bequette said special education students would serve as ambassadors of the butterfly garden and maintain it, and art students would decorate the garden’s exterior.

School board member Dr. Benny Wright commended Johnson, the administration and principals for creating the opportunity for students.

“Keep us informed, so we can go out there to look at it,” board member David Troutman said.

In other news from Thursday’s meeting, the board approved the request to purchase two sets of software totaling approximately $47,000.

Wright voted against purchasing a program called Curriculum Advantage for Robert Lewis Middle School and Frazier Primary School.

Director of Curriculum Charlotte Franklin said all schools previously used the program, but only Fraizer and Robert Lewis requested upgrades for its continued use.

Wright voted against the upgrade after expressing concern about two schools renewing a program the other four district schools chose not to renew.

Board president Wayne Barnett, Dale Steckler, Thelma Newsome and Troutman voted to purchase the upgrades for the two schools that wanted them.

Troutman said he was pleased the other schools gave feedback and chose not to renew the programs after finding them unsuccessful for their students.

The board unanimously approved a nearly $34,000 program requested by Natchez High School Principal Cleveland Moore.

“(The program) helps bridge gaps for students with (learning) gaps between grades kindergarten to eighth grade to prepare them for (state mandated subject-area tests),” Moore said.

Moore said the program will be replacing another test preparation program.

“Please use (the program),” Troutman told Moore. “And if its not a good program let us know — $30,000 is a lot of money,” he said.