Outdoor classroom honors late Jefferson Elementary student

Outdoor classroom honors late student

The Little Rock School Board last week authorized the Jefferson Elementary School Parent Teacher Association to construct the Malin Opitz Outdoor Classroom.

Malin was a fourth grader at Jefferson Elementary who died of brain cancer in 2023.

"Her love for Jefferson Elementary was so deep that when asked what she would do if she won the lottery, she wished for a gym for Jefferson," according to the resolution passed by the School Board.

That sentiment inspired the plans for the outdoor classroom. The school's PTA has raised a total of $564,150 in donations and pledges for the project that is projected to be completed in five months on the school's west side.

The project architects of record are Ernest Banks with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, Amber Banks with Cromwell Architects Engineers and Nikki Crane-Hasty. The general contractor is CDI Contractors.

Slater set to speak at City Year event

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater will be the keynote speaker for City Year Little Rock's third annual Red Jacket Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. May 8 in the William Grant Still Ballroom in the Robinson Center.

Scheduled in advance of the nonprofit's 20th anniversary this fall, the luncheon will highlight how national service helps unify and strengthen communities.

Slater serves on City Year's national board of trustees.

"Secretary Slater is widely recognized for his inclusive and innovative approach to tackling our country's most pressing challenges," said Jennifer Cobb, City Year Little Rock's senior vice president and executive director. "From his childhood in the deeply divided Arkansas Delta to an incredible career in government, he brings a unique perspective on the power of national service in building a stronger, more equitable future."

Along with Secretary Slater's keynote, the event will include student-led entertainment, a panel discussion with AmeriCorps members and a presentation of the Susan Purvis Excellence in Teaching Award. A memorial tribute to City Year Little Rock founder and board chair Bruce T. Moore, who died last year, is also planned.

City Year currently has 40 AmeriCorps members serving in the Little Rock School District and Jacksonville North Pulaski School District. The 17- to 25-year-olds provide individual tutoring, small group instruction, skill building and after-school programming.

Details about tickets and sponsorships for the Red Jacket Luncheon are available here: https://support.cityyear.org/event/red-jacket-luncheon-2024/e565168

Essay competition offers scholarships

The Clinton Foundation's annual "Ideas Matter" essay contest is an opportunity for Arkansas juniors and seniors to win $8,500 in college scholarships by presenting innovative solutions to pressing challenges.

The student who writes the winning essay will receive a $5,000 college scholarship. Scholarships will also be awarded to second-place ($2,500) and third-place ($1,000) students.

Essays must be at least 1,500 words and submissions are due by May 24.

Students should submit their essays online at: www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org/ideasmatteressay.

In light of a 2023 Arkansas Civic Health Index that reported that Arkansas has the lowest voter registration and turnout in the nation, the Clinton Foundation invites students to write an essay about youth impact through civic participation.

Essays should explore and provide solutions to questions like: How can youth voices, skills, and time be mechanisms for positive change in their neighborhoods, schools, and cities? What are some of the challenges to civic participation for young people? What are some ways that youth can scale those hurdles to achieve collective impact and better their communities?

The Ideas Matter Scholarship Essay Contest is supported by the Derek Lewis Foundation.

Who's Who profiles president of union

April Reisma, president of the Arkansas Education Association teacher union, has been included in Marquis Who's Who.

Individuals profiled in the Who's Who are selected based on factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility and prominence in a field.

After earning a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences from the University of Northern Iowa in 1992, Reisma became a home economics teacher. She left teaching to work for the U.S. Postal Service before beginning to teach math in Arkansas to young adults up to 26 years old. That led to special education positions in the Benton and Pulaski County Special school districts.

Reisma is a board-certified teacher in exceptional needs through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

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