Headlines Cont. – 4/14/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 14, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – April 14, 2006


South Panola High School students gearing up for state tests
By Rita Howell

More than 900 students at South Panola High School are preparing this month to take four tests that must be passed in order for them to graduate from high school.

The state’s Subject Area Testing Program tests will be administered April 25-28, and in the days leading up to those tests, the school has been buzzing after hours as students take advantage of tutoring sessions to improve their odds on test day.

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The four state tests, and the test dates are: English II, April 25; Biology I, April 26; U.S. History, April 27, and Algebra I, April 28.

Principal Dr. Gearl Loden said this week that students and teachers are taking the preparation seriously.

Not only does each student’s prospect for graduation depend on passing the tests, but also the school’s accredition "grade" is determined from the test scores.

Loden had all the test-takers participate in preliminary practice tests a few weeks ago, and teachers are using the results to focus on weaknesses that showed up.

Strategies include using old-fashioned flash cards so that students can study together and review each other.

And some faculty members are being called on to perform double duty, lending expertise in areas they don’t normally teach.

"Col. (Orville) Robertson, who heads our ROTC, is also pretty good in American history," Loden explained. "So we’ve had him helping some of the students who’ll be taking the U.S. History test."

In addition, there have been added incentives, like computer game give-aways for students who have been consistent in their test preparation efforts. Next week, names will be drawn for cash prizes.

The test scores will not be reported until sometime in the summer, Loden said, meaning students will have to wait until the fall semester to enjoy the rewards they’ve been promised for good performance.

For those who earn "proficient" scores, there will be field trips. For students whose scores place them in the "advanced" level, a "movie day" will be declared and they’ll be bused to a theater in Oxford.

And if anyone gets a perfect score, he or she will get $100 from Loden’s pocket.

He’s asking for help from businesses in the community who employ students in after school jobs.

"About half of our students have parttime jobs," Loden said. "We’re asking employers, as they make out their time schedules for the next week, to consider the test dates, and not put someone on a late shift if he has to take a test the next day that will determine if he graduates or not."

Sardis’ sewer facility needs updating, board is told
By Jason C. Mattox

The City of Sardis finds itself in a bit of a stink with its sewer discharge facility.

Robert Ashley of B & W Systems of Louisiana was on hand during a special called meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen to discuss the needs at the city’s discharge facility.

"The plain and simple fact of it all is that you have some obsolete equipment in there," he said. "There is also some that looks to have been damaged by a voltage problem or lightning."

Ashley explained that the current equipment was installed in 1992.

"It has come to a point where you are going to have to replace the older equipment or face some pretty hefty fines from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said Ashley had contacted MDEQ to see exactly what kind of equipment the city was going to need to upgrade their discharge facility.

Ashley said the city can expect to pay approximately $10,000 for equipment and another $3,000 for the labor.

"You are going to need a civil engineer who can look at this," he said. "That way, if something goes wrong, you will at least have someone you can point some fingers at."

City Attorney Tommy Shuler told city leaders the recently hired city engineer, David Evans, should inspect the problem.

"You just hired a new engineer, and I think it would be wise to let him take a good look at the situation and come up with the best plan of action," Shuler said.

Alderman Joseph "JoJo" Still asked if it was possible to file the damage to equipment on the city’s insurance.

"I’m sure you can, but there is no way of knowing just how long it has been damaged," Ashley said. "I can tell you this, it didn’t happen anytime in the last five or six weeks."

Dye said a letter is being prepared to send to MDEQ to explain the situation and let them know everything possible will be done to correct the problem.

"This city doesn’t want to be hit with a $25,000 fine or better," Dye said. "We need to get the ball rolling on this."



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