Southside wins food collection drive

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 30, 2004

Southside High collected the largest amount of food of any of 27 Selma and Dallas County public and private schools that participated – 2,423 of the total 14,452 pounds collected – and the top class was also from Southside – the Jobs for Alabama’s Graduates (JAG) class taught by Dorothy Adams, JAG specialist on Southside’s faculty, which collected 804 pounds.

The school and the class were

honored on the Southside Campus by Selma Area Food Bank Executive Director Buddy Wiltsie. The school received a framed certificate and the class a check for $100.

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JAG president, Darlene Atkins, a Southside senior, commented on the award: &uot;We had a goal to accomplish. The class worked as a team. We put our leadership skills together and we accomplished the goal.&uot;

Adams, who has taught at Southside for 34 years in the fields of physical education, government, economics and now the JAG program, said the class set a goal of 3,000 cans to be collected during the month of November. &uot;We saw it as a positive goal that would make a difference in our community,&uot; she said. Students read the newspaper and made themselves aware of the critical food shortage reported this past fall, which continues (see story accompanying this article).

Planning began in October, she said, and class members went to each classroom and enlisted the firm support of teacher and students. At the beginning of November a box for food collection was placed in each room, along with a flyer describing the purpose and goal of the program. Also included was information from the food bank.

The flyer set forth prizes that would be awarded in the school for the classes collecting the most food: first place, a pizza party, beverage and certificate; second place, hamburgers and fries plus a beverage and a certificate; and third place, popcorn and beverage and a certificate. At the end of the drive, representatives of the JAG program went to the three top classes with the announcement of their awards.

Smith said that area food distributors were also approached, especially those that had employees who were students at Southside. Food World and Winn-Dixie each made contributions, along with the Selma Exchange Club that frequently partners with JAG in its ongoing activities in the community. Smith said that not every business approached contributed but in one case, even though the store did not contribute, the manager did.

Principal Gary Crum told Wiltsie how pleased the school was to receive the awards and how proud he was of Mrs. Smith’s class and all other classes who put Southside over the top.

The JAG program which is now functioning in 26 states, according to Smith, has been in Alabama for eight years and a part of Southside’s program for seven. Its mission is to assist seniors in graduating from high school and in finding and keeping quality jobs through a state-supported school-to-work transition system. The program is also in place at Keith High School, she said.

JAG is a 21-month program for seniors only, though juniors also participate in some other schools. It has three requirements for each participant: to enroll in a college or technical school, to enter the military or to enter the workforce with a quality job following graduation. Upon graduation, the school continues to work with the students for a year to ensure a positive outcome. The curriculum includes 30 competencies that each student is expected to achieve by graduation.

Students are also part of a student-led Career Association that parallels classroom instruction and student activities in the community, including charitable work, such as participation in the food drive.

Wiltsie is also in process of taking awards around to other classes and schools. Second place in the classroom division was Amanda Foxhall’s class at Dallas County High School (787 pounds) and Johnnie Harrison’s class at Martin Middle School (629 pounds). Numbers two and three, respectively, in the school division were Morgan Academy (1,805 pounds) and Martin Middle School (1,469 pounds).

The second- and third-place classes will receive checks for $50 and $25, respectively, from the Selma Area Food Bank.