Forward-thinking educational programs are helping to establish a culture of leadership and high achievement in Vicksburg schools, with strong emphasis on science and technology.
Siege Robotics is a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition Team made up of students from Warren Central High School, Vicksburg High School and St. Aloysius Catholic High School. The team, founded in 2000 by WCHS teacher Dawn Meeks, comes together to build a robot using a standard kit of parts and common set of rules. Students then compete in regional events that give them real-world engineering experience while also promoting teamwork, safety and gracious professionalism. In 2013, the 34-member team posted a 28-15-2 record, and the 2014 squad plans to attend competitions in Orlando, Fla., and Kenner, La.
In 2010, the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center created an outreach program to help strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs that inspire young people to pursue careers in STEM fields. With ERDC headquarters and four U.S. Army Corps laboratories in Vicksburg, the city’s students are well-positioned to benefit from the experience of the area’s scientists and engineers, who support and complement the efforts of local teachers. One example is the Mississippi River Course lecture series, in which the ERDC provides demonstrations of engineering in action as applied to flood control and management of the river.
Scholastic Academy began as an accelerated program of study for junior high students in the Vicksburg Warren School District, but in 2013 the program – which provides additional learning opportunities for students who exhibit exceptional academic ability – expanded to include Vicksburg and Warren Central High Schools. Students who are referred (typically by a teacher, parent or peer) are welcome to apply.
The Leader in Me
The Leader in Me is a whole-school transformation model based on Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce sponsored program emphasizes setting goals, self-discipline and teamwork, and asks children to take responsibility for their learning and behavior. The program was rolled out locally at Bowmar Elementary and Bovina Elementary in 2012-13, and at least one additional Vicksburg school is expected to add the program soon. “We’re having great results in those schools,” says former Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christi Kilroy. Discipline reports are down 84 percent, and absenteeism has been reduced by seven percent, according to the Chamber.