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Notes from the Delta - May 2015 Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Dear Team & Family,

It is graduation season here at KIPP Delta and across the nation! We’re excited to attend college graduations for many of our students from the KIPP Delta Class of 2011 this spring, and we’re preparing for our own high school graduation ceremony on May 21, 2015. With College Signing Day last week (read more below), our KIPP Through College team has been busy meeting with seniors to discuss their choices. We know college match is exceedingly important for our students. Where they choose to go to college impacts the likelihood that they will earn a degree – the higher the overall graduation rate of the college, the more likely it is that our students will graduate. The logic behind this is fairly simple, but putting it into action for an entire class of seniors is difficult every year. Our KIPP Through College staff works with all high school students to begin sharing this message early, and then even more time is spent on this topic as juniors make college wish lists and seniors complete applications.

We strive to have 100% of students apply to at least three match schools and at least three reach schools, in addition to their three likely schools. Once acceptances roll in and financial aid award letters are reviewed, our KIPP Through College team guides students to make a choice that is both a good match and a good fit. College match refers to the numbers we always talk about – average GPA, test scores, graduation rates, financial aid package – but also the support available on campus. College fit refers to characteristics that are usually matters of “the heart” rather than “the head,” but are still very important for student success – location, class size, academic interests, extracurricular activities, and housing options. The puzzle of combining match and fit within the parameters of college acceptance lists can be incredibly challenging, but it is one of the most critical decisions our students make on their climb to and through college. Finding the right match is one of five critical factors for college completion, as determined through extensive research and our own early experience with KIPP schools across the country. The other four critical factors include academic readiness; a powerful set of character strengths; social and academic integration; and college affordability and financial understanding. (Keep reading below to see how our newest college partner – Hendrix – is assisting our students with a few these critical factors).

Thank you to all of our families and staff members who have contributed to this conversation around college match and assisted the Class of 2015 with their college choices!


Scott Shirey
Executive Director


College Signing Day 2015!

KIPP Delta’s fifth graduating class is preparing to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas on May 21, 2015. But last Friday, they had a chance to practice that walk on a different stage for College Signing Day. Each year, May 1 is the date that seniors must have a deposit made at the college of their choice. To celebrate these decisions, KIPP Delta hosts Signing Day, an annual tradition that has grown immensely with each passing year. Each senior takes the stage and, in front of over 500 KIPP Delta students, announces where he/she will be attending college in the fall. The Class of 2015 will be matriculating to a wide array of colleges including: Phillips Community College, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas State University, Arkansas Tech University, Ouachita Baptist University, Jackson State University, University of Arkansas, Hendrix College, Spelman College, Tuskegee University, and Berea College.

Congratulations to each and every student in the KIPP Delta Class of 2015! We look forward to reporting back to our supporters as these students continue their climb to and THROUGH college.


Little Bites. Big Impact.

KIPP Delta’s second annual Little Bites. Big Impact. event, held on April 9 at the Phillips Community College Fine Arts Center, brought over 200 people together to celebrate the impact of KIPP Delta in the community. Little Bites. Big Impact. is a tapas style culinary event featuring chefs from all over the region. Visiting chefs included Executive Chef Shane Henderson of Ben E. Keith food from Little Rock, Executive Chef Stephen Burrow of Forty Two at the Clinton Presidential Library from Little Rock, Chef Jerry McCrary of Dreamboat BBQ and Tamales located in Clarksdale, Mrs. Helen McClain of Fabulous Foods out of Marianna, Chef Eric Coleman of Deltafood located in Tunica, Chef Chris Card of Ranchero located in Clarksdale, Otis and Henry’s Bar and Grill located at the Isle of Capri Casino in Lula, and Baker Patton of Patton’s Cheesecake in Clarksdale. The special guest chef was David Bibbs, a graduate of KIPP Delta Collegiate High School and current senior at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. David will graduate this month with his Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts and an emphasis in pastry making.

The evening raised over $26,000 for KIPP Delta Public Schools. The event was emceed by Alex Speed, Class of 2019, and Emazjay Smith, Class of 2024. The event featured two student performances, one by the KIPP Delta Collegiate High School band and one by the KIPP Delta Collegiate High School choir. Andre James, from the Class of 2016, delivered a speech about his journey through KIPP and the impact that his teachers have had on his growth. Scott Shirey, executive director, also spoke about the exciting achievements of KIPP Delta students, highlighting those who are choosing to return to Phillips County after graduating from college.

A new tradition was introduced, with the addition of annual Beyond Z Awards. These awards will go to a community member, a staff member, and a student who go above and beyond in their pursuit of excellence. The Beyond Z Community Award was given to Bettye Hendrix for her unwavering support of KIPP Delta Public Schools over the past thirteen years. The first-ever Beyond Z Staff Award was given to Amy Charpentier, KIPP Delta’s KIPP Through College Director. Amy has worked tirelessly, first as a teacher, then as a college advisor, and now as the director, to ensure that KIPP Delta students have the support they need to reach their college graduation day. Currently over 80% of KIPP Delta alumni have graduated from or are persisting in college, and a great deal of this success can be attributed to Amy’s dedication.

The Beyond Z Student Award was given to Tykeena Watson from the Class of 2016. Tykeena is a model KIPPster in every way possible. She holds herself to extremely high expectations, but also expects the best from her peers. After attending a summer leadership program at Brown University last summer, Tykeena came back to Helena and used her new skills to start a peer mediation group at KIPP Delta Collegiate High School. She trained select peers on how to mediate issues that arise between high school students and now her school director, Todd Dixon, says “Tykeena’s ability to solve issues with permanence surpasses that of any student or adult in our school.” She is currently taking every Advanced Placement course that is offered and in the fall Tykeena plans to apply to all eight Ivy League schools, in addition to Duke and Stanford.

KIPP Delta Public Schools would like to recognize and thank our Impact and Empower sponsors who helped make this event possible:

Impact Sponsors: Hargraves Insurance, Cathy & Ernest Cunningham, Southern Bancorp, King Farms, Elaine & Jim Frazier

Empower Sponsors: Hays Food Town, Phillips County Community Foundation, Helena Family Healthcare, Helena Marine Service, Hickory Hill Pharmacy

Photos from the event can be viewed here!


Hendrix Becomes Newest College Partner!

On April 8, Hendrix College and KIPP announced a partnership to increase college completion rates for underserved KIPP students in the Delta and nationwide. With this partnership, Hendrix plans to recruit and enroll between four and six qualified KIPP alumni for the 2015-2016 school year and each year thereafter. Hendrix will address the full financial need of KIPP alumni at the school and develop a peer mentorship program to provide further peer support to KIPP students and other first generation college. Additionally, Hendrix will provide KIPP Delta high school juniors and seniors with college exposure opportunities to experience college through field trips to tour the campus and visit with professors.

“We are excited and honored to continue the culture of success that KIPP Delta has created for students in the Arkansas Delta,” said Hendrix College President Bill Tsutsui. “Not only does this new partnership continue our heritage of providing Arkansas students with an exceptional liberal arts education, it affirms our commitment to and the importance of a diverse campus community. This is an exciting opportunity for Hendrix and KIPP Delta students, and we are so grateful to the KIPP leaders for their confidence and trust in Hendrix.”

The new partnership continues the spirit of other recent Hendrix initiatives for Arkansas students. In December, the college announced the Hendrix Arkansas Advantage financial assistance program, which meets all demonstrated financial need for qualified Arkansas high school students enrolling at Hendrix in fall 2015. This spring, Hendrix signed an agreement with the Arkansas chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to provide scholarships to qualified Latino and Latina students.

“We are thrilled to have a partnership with Hendrix College,” said Scott Shirey, Executive Director of KIPP Delta Public Schools. “The partnership shows a real commitment from President Tsutsui and Hendrix to ensure that an economically and geographically diverse set of students has access to some of the best education in the state. We are grateful that we will be able to work hand in hand with them to ensure our students make it not only to college, but through college.”

Hendrix joins a growing list of KIPP college partners, including Brown University, Duke University, Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania and Spelman College. A complete list of KIPP’s college partners can be found at


KIPP Blytheville Collegiate Science Fair

KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School hosted its first annual science exploration night on April 23, 2015. Damien Myers, who teaches biology, civics, and economics to KIPP Blytheville’s ninth graders, organized and hosted the event. Over 30 independent science projects were on display in the KIPP cafeteria, along with a variety of animals dissected in class. Nearly 90% of the 55-student Class of 2018 attended the event, either as a participant themselves or in support of their teammates. Throughout the course of the evening, over 60 teachers, family members, and students came to the science fair and discussed project results with the presenters. At the end of the night, Mr. Myers announced the top five projects, as determined by staff judges. The winners, in order, were:

  1. Anika Mittal
  2. Tia Hamon
  3. Destinee Terry
  4. Kayla Perry
  5. Sydney Mathious

Science projects ranged from the study of which substances are best for cleaning coins (orange juice), to the way plants react to solution acidity (only neutral substances allow plants to grow), to the investigation of which type of grape molds the fastest (purple). In addition to the top five winners, there were two additional awards granted. Shakiya Riggins won the “People’s Choice Award” by earning the most votes from guests and Masud Niles won the “Young Scientist Award” for having the highest GPA in biology all year. The event was a great opportunity for students to share their hard work and for families to see what has been taking place inside the walls of KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School.

Photos from Science Exploration Night can be viewed here!


New Home for Kindergarten

On April 20, in conjunction with our quarterly Board meeting, KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy hosted a ribbon cutting. This celebration brought community members, parents, and students together to officially open the newly constructed kindergarten wing on Cherry Street. Students from the Class of 2028 (currently Pre-K 4-year olds) were excited to be in attendance, as they will be the first class to use the new space as kindergarteners this coming summer. The addition includes four classrooms, offices, and much-needed storage space. We are incredibly grateful for all the donors who contributed to the Building a Better Tomorrow campaign and made this expansion possible. All donors of $100 or more are listed on the honor wall on the exterior of the building. Thank you for supporting our KIPPsters on their climb to and through college!

Photos from the ribbon cutting can be viewed here!


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


KIPP Report Card Launched

The KIPP Foundation has published their 2014 Report Card! As you know, sharing our results is one of the ways we fulfill our commitment to transparency and accountability, and this report card is one way that KIPP Foundation does that. The piece features student achievement data from the 2013-14 school year framed around our Healthy Schools & Regions Six Essential Questions. Results include our national data in aggregate as well as stories about our students, leaders, and staff to help bring the numbers to life. View the 2014 Report Card at!


Upcoming Events

  • Graduation – May 21, 2015
  • Memorial Day (No School) – May 25, 2015
  • Last Day of School – May 29, 2015

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

Carissa Godwin
Chief of External Affairs