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Notes from the Delta - April 2015 Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Dear Team & Family,

This month, instead of a message about recent events and current priorities, I want to begin our newsletter with a letter of reflection and gratitude from a KIPP Delta alumna, Jessica Amos:

As I prepare for my senior year of college, I am excited and a bit anxious about what my future will hold. Four years ago, I was in a similar position as a senior in high school. I remember having a box at home, filled to the brim with college pamphlets and letters. Every day, I would go out to my mailbox to find a few more letters, all from colleges that were eager to gain my application. It was a humbling and gratifying experience to know these schools wanted me as a student. I have had a tremendous amount of support from my family in regards to my academic career. However, I will never fail to mention that KIPP has helped to propel me in my academic success. As I reflected on my journey, I was inspired to reach out and thank you for your support.

I am Jessica Amos, a junior at Hendrix College and a proud alumnus of KIPP Delta Public Schools. As I write this letter, I find myself full of nostalgia. All the memories of my time at KIPP Delta are flooding back to me, and these are moments that I will cherish for the rest of my life. While my time at KIPP was filled with tremendous achievements and an abundance of happy moments, there were difficult times as well. There were plenty of instances in which the work load was frustrating and I found myself feeling defeated. Despite the struggles, I knew I was not alone. KIPP Delta is built on the idea of “team and family” and the notion that “there are no shortcuts.” With my teammates and teachers by my side, I knew that even the hardest challenges were simply bumps in the road. Now, I know that all of the hard work was worth it.

The dedication of the teachers and staff, and their commitment to education, has inspired me to educate others. As a Politics/Pre-Law major, it is my goal to become an attorney who advocates for the civil rights of the disadvantaged. However, before I begin that journey, I want to pay forward the opportunities KIPP has provided to me. I aspire to join Teach For America and work in the same KIPP Delta classrooms in which I sat just three years ago. I want to commit myself to educating future generations and helping them achieve their aspirations.

The values I gained at KIPP will always be close to my heart. I know that regardless of where I go, I can always depend on my team and family. I am also confident that even the longest and most daunting of roads will lead to success with hard work. Finally, I know that as long as I pursue greater knowledge, I will have the power to control my own destiny. I am forever grateful for KIPP Delta Public Schools, and I am grateful for all of you who are helping to turn the dreams of our youth into realities.

Thank you,
Jessica Amos
Class of 2012


Scott Shirey
Executive Director


KIPP Delta Students Featured in Essence Magazine

Last April, a group of female students from KIPP Delta Collegiate High School were given an incredible opportunity to speak with Chelsea Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The conversation, which included just three other schools from across the country via Skype, as well as a live audience in New York City, was moderated by America Ferrara. Titled Girls: A No Ceilings Conversation, this event was the first in what will be a series of conversations with girls and young women.

Just last month, these KIPP Delta students were featured in Essence magazine’s “10 Things We’re Talking About” article, thanks to their involvement with the Clinton Foundation initiative called No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project.

In November of 2013, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton launched a new Clinton Foundation initiative called No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project. The aim of this project is to gather and analyze data to determine what gains have been made in the past 20 years, and also to determine what obstacles are still preventing women from fully participating in every aspect of society.


Opening New Doors!

In the fall of 2013, KIPP Delta Public Schools launched the Building a Better Tomorrow Capital Campaign to build a new kindergarten wing and playground at KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy in Helena. With a $1.2 million goal, we asked our supporters to help make this dream a reality—and hundreds of you stepped up! Within eight months, the campaign goal was met and now construction is complete! To celebrate, we will be having a ribbon cutting on April 20th at 2:00 p.m. at 215 Cherry Street in downtown Helena. The ceremony will include a student speech, a performance by the KIPP Delta Elementary Choir, and brief remarks by Scott Shirey. There will be light refreshments as well. We could not be more grateful to the many individuals, organizations, foundations, and corporations, including many of our big and little KIPPsters, who made this possible. We hope you will join us for the event.


KIPP Artists Celebrate Black History Month!

To celebrate Black History Month, students in Mr. Matt Balla’s visual arts class studied some of the most highly regarded black artists. One of these artists is Jacob Lawrence who is considered the most widely acclaimed African American artist of the 20th century. At 23 years old, he gained national recognition with his 60-panel series, “The Migration of the Negro." The series depicts the migration of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North during and after World War I. Focusing on concept, art students at KIPP Delta Collegiate High were asked to select a panel (and its related caption) from Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration Series” and to re-illustrate it with a collage (cut paper) inspired by the work of Romare Bearden. Bearden was an African American artist and writer who was recognized as one of the most important visual artists of his century, and renowned primarily for his collages.


Increasing College Completion in the Arkansas Delta

A post by Scott Shirey, KIPP Delta’s Executive Director, was recently featured on the KIPP Foundation blog. Read the post here to learn about the impact we are having in the communities we serve:


Pi Day of the Century!

March 14, 2015 was truly the Pi Day of the century. While math lovers everywhere celebrate the date 3.14 annually, this year we were able to celebrate with a date of 3.14.15, which includes the first FOUR digits of pi. This phenomenon happens once every 100 years, which is just another reason to celebrate! Pi Day activities took place on all KIPP Delta campuses and students were enthusiastic, but the excitement on our Blytheville campus was truly palpable. With ice cream pies being shared at lunch and the opportunity to “pie” a teacher at the end of the day, there is always a buzz in the air on this holiday. Each year, the day culminates with a “pi off” where one student from each grade level recites as many digits of pi as they can remember, in front of 300 students.

Last year, Ly Hoang in the Class of 2019, won the competition, but she couldn’t quite reach her goal of breaking the school record, which stood at 187 digits. This year, remembering her 2014 performance, the entire cafeteria erupted in applause before Ly even started. The room had high hopes for Ly, and they were about to learn a lesson in grit from her. Ly started and got about 15 digits in, then paused. She asked Ms. Wright, school director, if she could start again. This time, she got about 20 digits in and asked to start again. She looked around the room, took a deep breath, and whispered to herself "There are a lot of people in here." Ly started again and, shortly after, made a mistake. She said to Ms. Wright, "Go back to where I said 46 and I will start there." She then continued, slowly and consistently, until she recited 204 digits and said "Ok, that's it." After sitting in silence, comparing Ly’s digits to the ones printed on papers in front of them, the entire school exhaled and jumped up in applause. Ly’s persistence was a shining example of how students can show grit when obstacles arise, and her teammates enthusiasm for her success was a welcome reminder of the love our students have cultivated for one another. It was certainly the Pi Day of the Century!


2015-2016 Enrollment is Open

KIPP Delta is now accepting applications for prekindergarten through twelfth grade students for the 2015-2016 school year. Your student must be three by August 1, 2015, to enroll in preschool and five by August 1, 2015, to enroll in Kindergarten. Start the journey to and through college by enrolling your student today!

Seats are available at the following sites and grade levels:

  • Helena Campus: Pre-K – 12
  • Blytheville Campus: Grades 4-10
  • Forrest City Campus: Grade 5


College Decisions on the Horizon

Congratulations to the Class of 2015, as 100% of seniors have been accepted to at least one college or university! Students have also been receiving many scholarship offers throughout the winter, and will continue to do so over the next few months. Currently, the Class of 2015 has earned over $800,000 in scholarship money!

View the full list of College Acceptances here.


Upcoming Events

  • Report Card Night – April 2, 2015
  • Enrollment Lottery – April 3, 2015
  • Little Bites. Big Impact. Event in Helena – April 9, 2015
  • Graduation – May 21, 2015

View the e-newsletter online

If you are a journalist or a member of the media and have an inquiry, please contact:

Carissa Godwin
Chief of External Affairs