The best news in PACERS this year is that schools potentially up for closure will be open in 2010-11. Celebrations are in order for Edward Bell HS in Camp Hill, Akron HS and Akron West in Akron, and Pintlala Elementary in Pintlala.
Since 2004 PACERS has been organized through local chapters. This year Pintlala formed a chapter and joined PACERS. Camp Hill (Edward Bell HS) and Packers Bend (Monroe Intermediate) chapters have initiated community gardens as local projects. Although the projects will involve students, they are the first community sponsored projects in PACERS and demonstrate the potential that PACERS has for assisting in local community development. Steele developed a local chapter web-site (www.steelepacers.com). The Loachapoka chapter has taken the initiative in helping to renovate the greenhouse and aqua facility at the elementary school and has held successful fund-raisers. PACERS future is very dependent upon successfully organizing its current local chapters and recruiting new members. For further details on chapters see http://www.pacersinc.org/chapters.html.
In 2009-10 good progress was made in all PACERS school project areas: rural science (aquaculture, solar, gardening), community documentation, entrepreneurship, and publishing. In aquaculture new programs were established at Monroe Tech (to serve students from Shields and other small schools in Monroe County) and Flomaton. Local grants-supplementing PACERS contributions-made it possible for Flomaton HS to build a new aquaculture facility. Section HS greatly expanded its aquaculture program during the year fully utilizing an outstanding facility. Florala HS continued its long-term work in aquaculture expanding its facilities and the scope of its program. Gaylesville developed a new system and plans with PACERS to add a passive solar greenhouse to its aqua building. Florala Middle School added a terrific hydroponics component to its aqua unit, and Loachapoka Elementary continues its program.
These developments in aquaculture were matched by ongoing facility and program building in both solar and gardening. New passive solar greenhouses were completed at Florala MS, Edward Bell, and Florala High School and renovations and additions were made at Section and Sand Rock. Passive solar workshops were held at Edward Bell, Monroe Intermediate, and Pintlala where students also used the solar living lab for alternative energy studies.
Students in several schools demonstrated strong interest in their communities and their ability to undertake successful documentation programs. At Monroe Intermediate students published a very fine school/community annual. Section HS students continued to work on a program that will result in a video exploring important themes in the lives of elders whose life stories they have recorded. Harlan Elementary continued its efforts to document the history of Lockhart and added to the Lockhart history room at the school. Florala HS students maintained their photography program that for many years has created still and video images documenting their community. Funds are available for new programs in 2010-11.
The big news in entrepreneurship was the opening of the student-operated Section Feed and Seed store. With the assistance of Barry Bailey, former PACERS consultant, students and faculty at Section HS prepared a business plan for which they received venture capital from PACERS. Following its plan and using a facility donated by a local family, Section opened its feed and seed store this spring. The program is an important model for PACERS. Also during the year several PACERS newspapers prepared business plans as part of the effort to strengthen the project and improve papers’ capacity to make money. Funds are available for new programs in 2010-11 (http://www.pacersinc.org/news.html). You can also download this document by clicking: http://www.pacersinc.org/f/Entrepreneurship.doc
Twelve schools participated this year in the newspaper project which has had a successful run of almost twenty years. The project continues to receive critical support from Auburn University’s Journalism Department which provided-free of cost-a newspaper workshop in the fall of 2009. During the year consultants, students, and sponsors have been making plans to develop on-line formats for the papers. Student interest in the move is strong and probably by the end of the semester there will be some on-line publishing. Because it reaches a wider (unlimited) audience, uses current technology, and is cheaper and less complicated, on-line publishing is an important option for the papers.