The DeSoto Digest
A publication of DeSoto County Schools
November 2014

"FARMtastic" is FANtastic at the Mid-South Fair

Farmtastic 6101

   Milk a cow, grind flour, gin cotton, climb aboard a tractor, groom a horse or hold a newly hatched chick...these experiences were part of FARMtastic, an agriculture experiential learning activity hosted by the Mississippi State University Extension Service at the Mid-South Fair.

   FARMtastic was designed to involve third grade students in hands on learning about the agricultural industry in Mississippi. Many DeSoto County Schools participated, including students from Pleasant Hill Elementary and Walls Elementary Schools.  

   Julie White, project director for FARMtastic, said, "Did you know everything you wear and everything you eat comes from farms? Today you will learn how food gets onto your tables, clothes get onto store shelves, and seeds germinate." 

Farmtastic mon

   Students walked through five large exhibit areas where they were introduced to agriculture topics in livestock, forestry, agronomy, and horticulture.  Teachers had to pre-register classes to attend.  The event was sponsored by Mississippi State University Extension Service and Mississippi Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations. 

   "We are so removed from where our food, clothing and basic items come from," said Toni Glass, a 3rd grade teacher at Walls Elementary.  "These experiences are good for students.  Also, we are growing vegetables in our Farmtastic 6110 school gardens and what they are seeing today goes hand-in-hand with what we are doing in the classroom." 

   Supt. Milton Kuykendall visited FARMtastic and toured all the exhibits. 

   "Next year, I would like to see all 3rd grade students in DeSoto County experience these hands-on learning activities.  I grew up on a farm.  Not only did I develop a great work ethic, I learned that everything in one way or another comes from farmers."

Home Run 5K Habitat for Humanity Race a Success
Hernando High School students were the first place winner among high schools to raise money for Habitat DeSoto.
     Perfect weather, strong community support, and participation from eight Desoto County high schools made the Home Run 5K Habitat for Humanity race a success, according to Sandy Slocum, president for DeSoto Habitat.

   "The total amount raised by our high schools for DeSoto Habitat surpassed last year by reaching $12,368.00," Slocum said. 

   And the winners are:

1.  Hernando - Angela Gregg & Sarah Little, Sponsors:  $4,300.00

2.  Lewisburg - Terry Boler & Allison White, Sponsors:  $3,325.00

3.  Center Hill - Alesha Green, Sponsor:  $1,280.00

4.  DeSoto Central - Tyler Cummings, Sponsor:  $1,198.00

5.  Horn Lake - Melissa Walker, Sponsor:  $1,076.00

6.  Lake Cormorant - Shauna Baker & Dana McDonald, Sponsors:  $629.00

7.  Southaven - Shelby Glover, Sponsor:  $290.00

8.  Olive Branch - Tiffany Harris, Sponsor:  $270.00

   "Congratulations to Hernando High, our 2014 first place team in the High School Competition, and the winner of the Dave Bowden Memorial Traveling Trophy," Slocum said. 

   Preston Burks from Hernando High School won first place with a time of 19:27.  Preston is on the Cross Country team at HHS. 

While Kevin Hick did not run in the race, he enjoyed the many activities for children at the Home Run 5K, including multiple rides on a miniature train.

  "Special thanks to Heath Hopper and the Horn Lake High School Band; LTC Gregg Johnston; MSG Richard McCarty; MAJ Robert Boyero; and the Marine Corps JROTC of Lake Cormorant and Olive Branch,"  said Slocum.  "Horn Lake provided music and the JROTC helped so much facilitating the race." 

   Board Member Carol Little said, "High school sponsors, you are fabulous!  We are blessed to have you as teachers in our outstanding DeSoto County high schools.  You are making a life-long difference in the lives of your students.  Principals, thank you for your support." 

   "The reason that we all do what we do for this event is that we have families in DeSoto County who need a decent and affordable place to live.  As a community, we can make sure that Habitat homes continue to be built for deserving families who need a hand up," Little added.

Move To Learn Star Comes to DCS
Move to LEarn
    With more than 20 years in education, Coach "Cal" Calhoun is on a mission to get kids moving. A recent stop included Lewisburg Elementary and Lewisburg Primary Schools.
Coach Cal web
   "Let's hop, hop, hop...roll it out...engage your brain...are you smiling?" Coach Cal chanted in the all-school assembly.

Potts web    And the students hopped, rolled their arms, listened and smiled.

   Students regarded Coach Cal with a rock star status as he is featured in dozens of "Move to Learn" five-minute videos designed for classroom use-with exercise routines that work in and around desks.

   "These videos are a perfect way to re-energize and refocus students during a long lesson," said  Amanda Samples, principal at LES.  "These videos are free and students love to get up and move."

   The exercise videos and more than 1,200 lesson plans that incorporate fitness and nutrition lessons designed to support Common Core State Standards and Mississippi Frameworks may be accessed at  Each student was given a bracelet with the website on it.

Hope Sullivan web

Allred Jones web Olivia Cashion web    Move to Learn is a program developed by the Bower Foundation to help teachers raise student fitness levels and, in turn, raise student achievement.  Ann Travis, chairman of the Bower Foundation, said the  Potts Coach Cal web idea from "Move to Learn" came from  Shadow Oaks Elementary School.  They developed "Burst Breaks" where students videotaped themselves doing exercises in their classrooms to break up the school day and raise student fitness levels.  Now the Bower Foundation has taken the program statewide.

Education of the Future

 DeSoto County Schools Issues Computers,
Teachers First, Then Students


    High school teachers at DeSoto County Schools are the first to receive Apple MacBook Air laptops, the first phase of a four-year implementation plan to add technology to classrooms, according to George Loper, the district's head of academic technology.

   "By phasing in our technology initiative, this will not raise taxes," said Supt. Milton Kuykendall.  "It will give our teachers a year to become experts on their new laptops so they can instruct students," Kuykendall added. Schools are the first to receive Apple MacBook Air laptops, the first phase of a four-year implementation plan to add technology to classrooms, according to George 


Loper, the district's head of academic technology.

   The phase-in plan calls for all high school students to get a MacBook Air next year, as well as every middle school certified staff member.    Hernando High School teachers were the first to receive their computers.  In the next few weeks, a total of 730 high school teachers will be issued one at the cost of $1,000 each. 

   In 2017-2018, every elementary classroom will have a class set of iPads.  These will come from push downs from high schools and middle schools and new purchases.   In 2016-2017, a MacBook Air will go to every middle school student and every elementary school certified staff member. 

FUTURE 6245     Theron Long, a school board member who approved the plan, said, "Having an advantage over your future competition is the whole key to quality education.  It's the key to moving out of poverty.  Our graduates will have skills that other school districts do not offer, and they'll be prepared to continue their education." 

   Jim Ferguson, chief academic officer for high schools, said, "This is the way it will be when students get to college.  I know it will have a positive impact on the district." 

   Victoria Jones, a Hernando High School band and music teacher, said, "Since teachers are getting these computers a year ahead of students, there will be a technology coach in every classroom.  This will open a new world of opportunity."

The DeSoto Digest is a publication of the
Communications Department
DeSoto County Schools
5 East South Street
Hernando, Mississippi 38632
Katherine Nelson, Director
The DeSoto County School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups.
The DeSoto Digest is produced by the Communications Department and delivered to all employees and subscribers on the first of each month.

For additional news about DeSoto County Schools, please visit  DCS News or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Katherine Nelson
Director of Communications
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The City of Walls Refunds DeSoto County Schools

Walls Mayor Patti Denison presented a check for $13,433.54 to the Board of Education, the remainder of $44,000 that Walls was given in 2009 for the design, construction and installation of sewage  improvements for Lake Cormorant High School.    "When I took office a year ago, I was told the money was in an escrow account but no one really knew what it was for," Denison told school board members.  "Over the last few months, I did some research and found out it was part of the interlocal agreement."       Supt. Milton Kuykendall accepted the check, and said, "It is good news to get money back.  This does not happen too often.  Thank you, Mayor Denison."
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New Adopt-A-School Partner

Psi Mu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. adopts Lake Cormorant High School. ( L to R) LCHS Asst. Principal Todd Mayo; Omega- Eric Powell; Omega- James Williams; Omega-Mike Smith; LCHS Principal Rhonda Guice; Omega- Vonn Stapleton; and LCHS Asst. Principal Sara Jane Russell.

     The Southaven Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. has adopted Lake Cormorant High School. Omega Psi Phi has over 700 chapters throughout the world. 

     Famous Omega men are: Bill Cosby, Steve Harvey, Tom Joyner, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dr. Charles Drew, and current Memphis Grizzlies Basketball Player VInce Carter.

     "It's through our mentoring initiative that our chapter will be able to partner with Lake Cormorant High School and encourage young people to stay in school," said Omega member Michael Smith.  "It is our goal to work to uplift our community."

Grainger Makes Significant Investment in DCS

    Grainger has donated $22,000 to the DeSoto County Schools Career and Technology Center and to the Education Foundation for grants in classrooms of DeSoto County schools.  Grainger has been a part of the DeSoto County business community for more than 11 years as the leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair, and operating products.

$12,000 Donation to Career and Technology Center East:  

The DeSoto County Schools Career and Technology Center East has received a $12,000 grant from Grainger to purchase four trainers for the technology center that simulate real-world industrial maintenance conditions.  These trainers will provide hands-on learning to better prepare our students, and future workforce, in DeSoto County.

   Mike Dailey is an instructor at the Career and Technology Center and says the trainers make it possible for students to simulate pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical and digital electronic components.  Without bringing in actual expensive and large equipment, the trainers make it easy to work on the exact component being studied in class.  He says they can "create conditions on the trainers to simulate problems the students will face in the field."  

$10,000 Donated to Education Foundation for Teacher Grants: 

   Grainger has made an additional $10,000 donation to the Education Foundation to go toward teacher grants in classrooms. Foundation for Excellence in Education Administrator Deborah Morgan, says "Grainger is our most loyal supporter.  They have given us $51,000 in the last five years and we greatly appreciate their generosity.  This has provided wonderful classroom grants for teachers."  

   The $10,000 donation was recommended by Alex Starker, Distribution Center Manager of Grainger, Inc.'s Southaven location.  

Alex Starker, Southaven Distribution Center Manager of W. W. Grainger, Inc.; Deborah Morgan, administrator for the Foundation for Excellence in Education; and Ezell Bell, Southaven Grainger Human Resource Manager, were on hand to celebrate the $10,000 Grainger donation to the Foundation for Excellence in Education. 


   "We are proud to recommend the program offered by the Foundation for Excellence in Education," said Starker.  "We understand the need and the importance of a strong education system in DeSoto County." 

2014 - 2015

School Year


November 4th

Professional Development
(Students & Teacher Assist.)

(Election Day)


November 26th-28th

Thanksgiving Holidays


December 22nd (Monday)

- January 2nd
Christmas Holidays

and New Year's


January 2nd (Friday)

Teachers Return


January 5th (Monday)

Students Return


January 19th

Lee/King Holiday


February 13th (Friday)

Professional Development


February 16th

Washington's Birthday


March 9th-13th

Spring Break


April 3rd

Good Friday


April 6th (Monday)

Easter Holiday


May 22nd (Friday)

Students Last Day


May 25th

Memorial Day


May 26th (Tuesday) 

Teachers Last Day


Scheduled makeup days are

December 22
February 13
February 16 

April 6