OUR OPINION: No shortage of good news last week

From significant grant funding to help promote Chickasaw culture in our region to a Saltillo resident spreading awareness on juvenile diabetes, there was plenty of good news to share last week throughout Northeast Mississippi.

Before we prepare for the week ahead, let’s take a look back at some of the highlights from last week:

• The Chickasaw Inkana Foundation has been awarded an $8,000 grant to support four different events across Northeast Mississippi this year. The Mississippi Humanities Council awarded a Bi-Centennial grant in the amount of $8,000 to the foundation to support a progressive series of four Chickasaw Celebration events. The grant funding will support seven Chickasaw history and culture scholars and published authors slated to make presentations at various Celebration locations as well as core infrastructure for the events. Founded in early 2014, the Chickasaw Inkana Foundation (CIF) (www.inkana.org) is a Mississippi nonprofit corporation based in Tupelo. Tupelo and North Mississippi were the heart of the Chickasaw Nation’s extensive homeland until they were forcibly moved to Indian Territory in 1837. We’re thrilled to see grant funding being awarded to such a deserving organization such as the Chickasaw Inkana Foundation.

• A Saltillo resident and Itawamba Agricultural High School student was recognized by the Mississippi House for her selection to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Children’s Congress. The House passed a resolution to honor Annabelle Bunch, who was diagnosed at age 4 with diabetes and was the only Mississippian selected to serve on the 150-member panel. More than 1,300 youth from across the country applied for the Congress. In her position, she will travel to Washington, D.C., this summer “where she will develop leadership skills, meet with Congressional leadership and will be empowered to use her voice for a change that will improve not only her life but also the lives of millions of people who live with Type 1 Diabetes.” At Itawamba AHS, Bunch plays softball and is a cheerleader. She also has raised money and spoken on behalf of research on a cure for diabetes. We congratulate Bunch on being recognized and appreciate her work to spread awareness on juvenile diabetes.

• Two Tupelo educators returned to Mississippi last weekend after a week spent observing researchers and scientists on a NASA research aircraft. Connie Gusmus, science teacher at Guntown Middle School, and Bob Swanson, astronomy instructor at Itawamba Community College, were one of 11 pairs of educators from across the country selected to fly on SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy). The educators were participating in the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program, a professional development opportunity for educators designed to improve teaching methods and to inspire students. Gusmus and Swanson arrived in Palmdale, California, where SOFIA would take off, and took their first flight on March 6. They flew over the Pacific Ocean, acquiring data to be analyzed along the way. On March 8, they flew again, traveling up the west coast of the United States, over Canada and cutting across the Midwest to return to California. We applaud the work done by local educators and especially those who represent our communities on such a high level.

Those are just a few of the great things that took place in our community last week, but we know there will be plenty more to share with you next week.

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