STARKVILLE — Students with disabilities will soon see an improvement of accessibility of playground equipment at Partnership Middle School.
The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District board on Tuesday accepted a donation of $5,000 from 4-County Electric and the Tennessee Valley Authority for the purchase of specialized outdoor equipment for students with disabilities.
PMS principal Jorine Neal told The Dispatch the equipment will better accommodate students with physical and mental limitations.
“We don’t know just yet the specifics of the equipment but it will be accessible outdoor playground equipment,” Neal said. “It will be accessible for all children so they can all participate. It will be multisensory equipment.”
Jon Turner, director of public relations and marketing for 4-County, was joined by TVA representative Carolyn Ward to speak with the board about the importance to him of the donation. Turner said oftentimes students with disabilities are overlooked, and 4-County is happy to contribute to making the schools more accessible through the 4-County Foundation.
“We know that special needs is something that probably gets overlooked a lot of times and needs funded,” Turner said.
“We’ve seen that be very successful in other schools with our Foundation. So, we reached out to (Julie Jones, SOCSD director of student support services) and offered to come up with something if y’all find a project for it, and y’all did.”
Ward said donations from TVA ramped up during COVID-19 with the Community Cares Fund in which the energy authority pairs up with local power companies in TVA coverage areas to donate to the communities it supports.
Excellence in STEM
Anya Rai, an eighth grader at Armstrong Junior High School, was selected as a top 300 Broadcom Master, which is a national science, technology, engineering and math competition for middle school students.
Rai is the lone Mississippi representative selected out of 1,807 applicants across the nation after she won the Mississippi Region 5 science and engineering fair. The board recognized Rai on Tuesday night and listened to her speak about her project which is about making biodegradable plastic.
“My project is all about creating waste through biodegradable plastic,” Rai said. “Because of COVID, a lot of restaurants have been using takeout, and that’s been adding to pollution in our environment.”
Assistant superintendent Christy Maulding said Rai will receive $125 from the Department of Defense’s STEM program and her project will compete once more next week where the students with the top 30 projects will be collectively awarded more than $100,000.
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