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The Northwest Mississippi Community College DeSoto Center’s Phi Theta Kappa Chapter and school officials have presented Horn Lake Elementary School a check for $2,773. The chapter donation will cover each second-grader at the school to receive a Scholastic Book of their choice for a year.  Among those on hand were school students Deanna Dranaros, Aaron Bland, Logan Beard and Nevah Brock. Also pictured are chapter advisor Patsy Gardner, DeSoto Center Assistant Dean Dr. Josh Filtz and Dean Dr. Keith Reed, HLES teachers Ashley Chunn and Emily Smith, and assistant principal Dee Thompson and principal Carrie Speck, along with chapter member Adam Canoy.

The Phi Theta Kappa chapter at Northwest DeSoto Center in Southaven has donated money to a local elementary school to help their students learn to love reading. The group of about 300 members who are enrolled in classes at the DeSoto Center campus gathered $2,773 that was given to Horn Lake Elementary School, so each second-grader at the school can buy a Scholastic book a month for an entire year, said advisor Patsy Gardner.

“Our members did a drive called DeSoto Goes Scholastic to raise money to donate to Horn Lake Elementary School to supply the entire second grade student with a new Scholastic book once every month for the entire school year,” said Gardner. “We went over and above our goal of $1,500 and hopefully we will be able to fund kindergarten and first grade also with new Scholastic books.”

Scholastic Book Clubs started back in the 1920s as the Scholastic Publishing Company. Founder Maurice R. "Robbie" Robinson saw the company enter the book business in the 1940s. It is seen as an opportunity for children to buy their favorite books.

Gardner said Horn Lake Elementary was selected to benefit from their generosity because of its proximity to the Northwest DeSoto Center and because many youngsters and their families could not afford to buy books.

“We (DeSoto Center) are just a couple of miles from here and it is the closest elementary school to us,” Gardner said. “They are in a high-need situation. A lot of their students are unable to buy their own Scholastic books, so we elected to choose Horn Lake and we hope to continue the partnership.”

The donation was excitedly accepted by principal Carrie Speck and her second-grade teachers.

“We’ve really focused on reading skills this year at Horn Lake Elementary School and our second-grade students are getting ready to take their state tests next year so we really want to motivate them to read and build their reading stamina,” Speck said, with teacher Emily Smith adding, “We have students here who don’t have access to books like some of the others may across the county, so it gives them a chance to read at home, as we’re trying to expose them to as much literature as we can.”

VAPING POLICY CONSIDERED: DeSoto County Schools board members reviewed at their most recent meeting the first reading of a board policy proposal addressing a growing national trend for the use of electronic cigarettes, also called vaping.

The second reading of the policy and a vote on its adoption is expected for the school board’s next meeting, to be held after the first of the new year.

Some have taken to vaping to gain the satisfaction effects of smoking without the burning of nicotine. Some turn to vaping in an effort to break the cigarette habit. However, many medical experts report that the health aspects and safety of e-cigarettes are in question. Officials with Johns Hopkins Medicine state on their website, for instance, that vaping is less harmful than cigarettes but is still not safe.

The policy proposal for DeSoto County Schools prohibits vaping by visitors, students, staff, instructors, or administrators on school grounds, in school buildings and facilities or at school-sponsored events, including but not limited to, athletic events.

Vaping items, when discovered, may be confiscated and disciplines are listed for violations of the board policy.

CELEBRATION OF EXCELLENCE TOUR: Mississippi Department of Education state Supt. Dr. Carey Wright returns in what is becoming an annual visit to the DeSoto County School District.

Wright will visit DeSoto Central Middle School at 10:30 a.m on Friday, Dec. 13 as part of what is called her Celebration of Excellence Tour. Wright each year visits the districts that achieved an “A” grade in state accountability testing.

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.