Natchez Adams School District honors top students, administrators of year

Published 4:10 pm Thursday, February 17, 2022

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NATCHEZ — The Natchez Adams School District celebrated its achievements from the top down on Tuesday, from each member of the Board of Trustees, the top teachers and administrators of the year to students who made the honor roll list for the second nine weeks of school.

Overall, there are 514 principal scholars, students who made As and Bs, and 180 superintendent scholars, or straight-A students said Public Engagement Coordinator Tony Fields.

During their Tuesday board meeting, the Natchez Adams School District Board of Trustees also recognized one teacher of the year from each school and one teacher of the year for the entire school district.

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Frazier Elementary School stood out this school year as Frazier teacher Sharron Johnson Cothern has been named NASD’s 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year and Frazier Principal Orisha Mims has been named NASD’s 2021-2022 Administrator of the Year.

Other teachers of the year honorees include Sierra Wesley, Morgantown Middle School; Erica Brown Tanner, Natchez Early College at Co-Lin; Cheryl Conway, Ph.D., Natchez Freshman Academy; Christine Martin, Robert Lewis Magnet School; Walidah Smith, Susie B. West Elementary; Allison Dawson, Natchez High School; Hazel Mallette, McLaurin Elementary; and Richard Bellar, Fallin Career and Technology Center.

This week is also School Board Appreciation Week at NASD, so each school administrator presented the school board members with gifts of appreciation for their administrative work and support of their schools.

In other matters during Tuesday’s board meeting:

As work on a $34 million project to build a new high school and renovate the old Natchez High School building for middle schoolers continues, Former Natchez Mayor Tony Byrne and tennis instructor Henry Harris asked if the board would consider adding the construction of new tennis courts to the project scope. Byrne suggested the school consider adding four to eight different tennis courts on the campus for team practices and tournaments.

“You have the stadium and the football field, the baseball fields and aquatic center and the basketball court. Every sport is represented except tennis,” Byrne said.

The board took no action in regard to Byrne’s request.

The board received an update on the progress of both the high school and middle school projects. Project Manager Marco Gonzalez said the new high school is taking shape with most of the steel framework and some walls complete. Gonzalez added he expects the building’s roof to be closed this April, leaving only the building’s interior to be finished.

As for the middle school, Gonzalez said renovation of the cafeteria was completed within a couple of weeks of the student’s return from winter break. The next phase of the project includes the renovation of the school auditorium and bathrooms. He added a lot of the remaining work on the building would have to wait until summer to not disrupt students while they are still in the building. Using ESSER funds granted to the district from the federal COVID-19 relief package, the board also plans to spend approximately $8 million in mechanical and bathroom upgrades at McLaurin and Morgantown schools. Gonzalez said because of the timing of the project and the inflated cost for construction and delivery of parts, the project is liable to take longer and cost more than it would in a typical year.

“The cost of construction and delivery of mechanical systems is out of this world,” he said. He added because the COVID-19 relief money is mandated to be spent within a limited time frame, it does not leave much room for project delay. However, there is a chance that the deadline for spending money from the relief package could be extended, he said.

The board also heard a presentation from Jason Straessle of Entegrity, an energy efficiency construction company based in Little Rock Arkansas. Straessle proposed a partnership with the school district that would help them save on energy costs as well as utilize green energy from solar panels that the company would build on school district property or close to it.

Straessle said the project would cost the district “less than their typical utility bill” with no upfront costs as well as allow the district to monetize on tax credits for using green energy.

While the solar panels would be owned and maintained by Entegrity, Straessle said the district would have the option to purchase them at the end of a seven to 25-year contract. Straessle’s proposal was taken under advisement with no action from the school board on the matter.