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Clarksdale Welcomes its First Charter School

Clarksdale Welcomes its First Charter School
By: Melody Dixon

Do you know what a charter school is? In a nutshell, it’s a school that receives government funding, but operates independently of a local school system.

This fall, Clarksdale will welcome its first charter school. The Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School will start off serving students from kindergarten to second grade for the 2018-2019 school year. In the future, it will add third through eighth grades as well.

The school’s executive director, Amanda Johnson, spoke to P&K about what can be expected.

How does it feel to be the catalyst shaking things up in the Mississippi Delta, to be the first to get a charter school established?
Johnson: We are very excited to make history as the first charter school approved outside of Jackson. We believe in the potential of scholars in the Mississippi Delta and are proud to be able to work within Delta communities, specifically Clarksdale and surrounding areas. Clarksdale Collegiate intends on being part of the solution to improving educational outcomes for all children. We are only part of the solution and are excited to be one model of excellence and hope to be a catalyst for change throughout the state.

What are the goals, plans and hopes for the new Clarksdale Collegiate charter school?
Johnson: Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School will prepare kindergarten through 8th grade students in the Mississippi Delta to excel in high school and college by providing rigorous instruction within a structured, ambitious and jubilant school community. Clarksdale Collegiate will be unapologetically college preparatory, starting in kindergarten. We envision a Mississippi Delta in which all students are inspired towards, work for, and successfully obtain a college degree, and we envision that work starting with access to a high-quality educational foundation, ensuring all children are firmly and measurably on the path to high school success and college graduation. We envision a public school rooted in research on what works for our community and informed by practices of the highest performing public schools in the nation.

I’ve heard that the new charter school will use the Myrtle Hall IV school building. Is that true?
Johnson: Clarksdale Collegiate is working to identify a facility for our short and long-term use. We are in the final negotiations with a local church to use their facility for our first years. We are also interested in identifying a facility for our long-term use. We have only made initial inquiries about old school buildings, like Myrtle Hall IV and others.

Is there a dress code or uniform already selected for the students, or will they be able to dress however they like?
Johnson: Yes, Clarksdale Collegiate scholars will dress in uniform. The uniform will consist of a Clarksdale Collegiate polo shirt, khaki pants, belt and tennis shoes. On Fridays, students will be allowed and encouraged to wear college shirts and denim jeans.

For information regarding enrollment and more, visit ClarksdaleCollegiate.org or call (662) 351-4020.

Melody Dixon is a 24-year-old freelance journalist and grace revolutionist who resides in Clarksdale, Mississippi. She earned her bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of Mississippi and enjoys keeping up with the latest in popular culture, especially fashion and feminism.

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