Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

3 Elementary Schools Receive Recognition for New Initiatives

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

3 Elementary Schools Receive Recognition for New Initiatives

Article excerpt

Three elementary schools have won a prestigious state award for starting unique, exciting school-wide projects.

Jacksonville Heights Elementary on the Westside, Pine Forest Elementary on the Southside and Cunningham Creek Elementary in Fruit Cove received this year's Little Red Schoolhouse Award. Each school has started low-cost, ongoing projects that other schools can copy.

The award, given for 28 years by the Florida Association of School Administrators, is designed to inform the public about great programs in public schools. It is given to 20 schools in the state -- elementary or middle schools.

Principals from the three schools will be honored June 28 in Orlando at the association's annual conference.

"It's a pretty big deal. It's a highly competitive, statewide award," said Sandi Bisceglia, an elementary school principal who has served on the five-member judging committee for five years.

Each year about 85 schools send in extremely impressive applications, Bisceglia said.

Here's a summary of each school's winning project:

The students, parents, faculty and community at Pine Forest documented the history of the school's neighborhood.

They painted murals and created books about significant people and places in the neighborhood. Senior citizens in their 70s and 80s supplied most of the information. Help came from the school's first principal, Eulene Jones, and the school's first PTA president, Thelma Ray, who today is a crossing guard at the school.

Jones and Ray were re-created in 4-foot by 6-foot murals, created by faculty members and students with help from students of nearby Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. Students and community members learned that Douglas Anderson was once an all black school.

The project is called Pine Forest Across Generations and was funded by a $4,500 city grant.

"It was a tremendous year and a great project," said Principal William Lotowycz."We have a lasting testament to the history of this community."

Cunningham Creek students, five times this year and last year, stopped everything to spend 45 minutes writing an essay on a given topic. …

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