Grant funds Tupelo Middle School camps

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Students at Tupelo Middle School applied several layers of makeup on Thursday to make themselves look like characters in a play.
Others created complex geometric shapes from card stock, learned how to march in a drum line and cooked a popular Mexican soup.
The students all participated in the school’s summer camp program that is sponsored by a nearly $1 million federal grant the school received in September 2009.
The 21st Century Community Learning Center grant is spread over five years. It has allowed for before- and after-school tutoring and many supplies, in addition to the summer camp program.
This year, the school is offering 11 free camps between June 6 and July 15. Offered this week are a drumline camp, drama camp, Latin culture camp and mathematics camp.
“The biggest part is that it is enrichment,” said Kristy Luse, assistant principal at Tupelo Middle School who will become the school’s principal on July 1. She is also the grant administrator.
“It provides a school-to-community connection because kids have something to do during the summer. It also builds relationships between the teachers and students, and that goes a long way.”
Students in the drama camp read the script for “Rikki Tikki Tavi,” and used makeup to make themselves look like a snake, bird or mongoose from the play. They also performed and filmed skits for the school’s positive behavior program.
“It builds confidence and is really an outlet for creativity,” said TMS seventh-grade challenge teacher Julie Martin, one of three teachers to help with that camp.
During the drumline camp, students practiced the footwork of marching while carrying drums. They have also worked on reading music and on technique.
“They all love drums, and this gives them the opportunity to practice even more,” said Tupelo Middle School band director Tim Matlock. “It gives us a jump start on next year.”
Students in the Latin American culture camp cooked traditional Latin foods every day.
Meanwhile, the mathematics camp focused on helping students prepare for advanced placement courses. They solved problems, made three-dimensional geometric shapes and played games.
“I wanted the students to see that hard problems can be fun and that hard concepts are basic to life,” math teacher Pam Cockrell said.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.