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RBHS teacher awarded $800 Target grant

By Staff
Kim West
RED BAY – Last fall Jacqueline Parsons decided to try something she had never done before to help out the sophomore class at Red Bay High School.
Parsons, a tenth grade class sponsor, was notified last month that she had been awarded an $800 Target Field Trip Grant. She learned about the program during a teachers' conference last summer and applied in September for one of the 5,000 grants disbursed each spring by Target to defray field trip costs for schools in the U.S.
"This was the first grant I had applied for," said Parsons, who has taught her entire 10-year career at Red Bay and is currently working on her doctoral dissertation at Samford University. "I heard about (the Target grants) at a national conference in Washington D.C. last summer. They couldn't be applied for until September 2008 and then there would be no notification until January 2009, so for a few months I was anxiously waiting to see what would happen."
She said she was motivated to apply for the grant because the tenth grade class had not taken a field trip together in several years and might not have the chance to take one again before graduation.
"Usually each year the classes go on a field trip, but the tenth grade class hasn't been on a trip in seven years for a variety of reasons, and some of the students have never been to Birmingham," Parsons said. "Sometimes the eleventh grade trip isn't taken because of prom and there might not be time to take a trip during senior year – that's what makes this tenth grade trip so important because they might not have the chance to go on another one together."
Because of the grant and donations from a school committee and the community, the class will spend a day in Birmingham for its first official field trip since third grade. The approximately 56 sophomores will tour the Golden Flake factory and Alabama Sports Hall of Fame during the morning and then eat lunch and spend the afternoon at the Birmingham Zoo on March 24.
"We chose Birmingham because you can go in a day and get back, and we wanted to stay in Alabama because our state has a lot offer," Parsons said. "And when we met to talk to the class to talk about where they wanted to go, they all said they did not want to go to a mall."
Parsons and the other class sponsors, Harold Entrekin and Jamie McNeil, met with the class officers – Morgan McKinney, Haley Martin, Paige Garrison, Jessica Kimbrough, Laken Elliott, Haley Blackburn and Kevin Hastings – at the beginning of the fall semester. The officers made the trip one of their top goals for the school year.
"The trip is why we all wanted to be class officers," said Garrison, the class secretary.
McKinney, the class president, expects many of her classmates to participate in the trip and believes it's important for students to have outside learning opportunities.
"We liked Birmingham because it has lots of choices and fun places to go, and I think most of the class will go on the trip," McKinney said. "I think field trips are very important because they give us a chance to get out and learn something outside of the classroom."