Education notebook: Donation boosts Hope ag education

Donation boosts Hope ag education

Leaders of the Hope School District announced last week that the district is the recipient of a $660,000 donation for use in large part to upgrade and expand the district's agricultural education program.

The donors want to be anonymous, the school system said.

The money is intended to accomplish at least some of the projects that had been planned in the event that a 12-mill property tax increase was approved by voters, which it was not.

The donation will be combined with state aid of as much as $434,000 for repairs and improvements to the agricultural building, including work on the plumbing and heat and air system.

"Because of the donation, we will be able to expand the Agri Building learning spaces, including the addition of an expanded Animal Sciences program," Hope Superintendent Jonathan Crossley said in announcing the donation.

Additionally the district will work with city and Hempstead County officials to oversee the construction of a show barn that will house animals for which students and teachers will provide care.

Kinco Constructors will oversee the project that will get underway in the spring of 2024. The most significant renovations and upgrades will take place during the summer, with the project to be completed by the start of the 2024-25 school year.

10 schools chosen for Project Zoo

Sixteen projects from 10 schools around the state have been selected to participate in Project Zoo for the 2023-24 project year, officials with the Little Rock Zoo and the EAST Initiative recently announced.

Project Zoo is designed for students in third through 12th grades who are participating in an Environmental and Spacial Technology Initiative program at their school. The program pairs the Little Rock Zoo with school applicants interested in using classroom resources, time and talent to help solve challenges at the zoo.

Schools selected to participate this year are: Armorel High School, Buffalo Island Central High School, Don Roberts Elementary School in Little Rock, Dover High School, Hamburg Middle School, Hot Springs Junior Academy, North Little Rock Middle School, Parson Hills Elementary School in Springdale, Sulphur Rock Magnet Elementary School and Washington Junior High School in Bentonville.

The partnership between the Little Rock Zoo and EAST was formed in 2019.

Each year, zoo staff provide applicants with project prompts as a means of providing guidance for project applications. Prompts this year included Penguin Nest Boxes, Tamandua Termite Mounds, Macaw Transportation Safety, Enhancements for Visual/Hearing Impaired, and 3D Printed Biofacts, among others.

The selected schools will work with zoo staff members through the end of the school year to complete the projects and then hand them off to the zoo for use.

Workshops offered on viewing eclipse

The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs is offering online workshops for Arkansas educators on how to lead a safe and effective eclipse viewing session of the April 8, 2024, solar eclipse for their students.

ASMSA physics and astronomy instructors will lead the workshops that are available to public, private or charter school educators in Arkansas, as well as home school educators. All grade levels are welcome. Each workshop is limited to 20 educators; the sessions are not open to students.

Sessions are set for Dec. 2; Jan. 20, 2024; and March 9, 2024.

Topics to be covered include when to schedule an eclipse viewing session, how to choose a viewing site, constructing safety devices for viewing, sources for safe solar viewing classes, and citizen science projects based on the eclipse.

Every educator who attends a session will be given access to training materials to use in their classes and will be mailed a starter pack of 20 eclipse glasses.

Information or registration is available at: