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franklin county times

RBHS benefits from new shade structures


By Brandi Miller for the FCT


Thanks to the tireless efforts of two Red Bay High School teachers, there are now three new shade structures located on the campus of RBHS. Dr. Jacqueline Parsons and Dr. Kay Hargett have put countless hours into fulfilling the requirements necessary to secure a grant and find additional funds to make the shade structures a reality and help educate students about the dangers of skin cancer and sun exposure.

“Shade structures are needed at the school because the elementary students have to play in the direct sunlight and the high school students have no shade to sit under during break,” said Parsons.

Dr. Parsons selected the Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Coalition Shade Structure Grant Program from a list of grants give to her by RBHS Principal Kenny Sparks. This program awards grants to public schools for installing permanent shade structures for outdoor locations that are not protected from the sun, such as playgrounds or recreation spaces. In order to receive the grant, applicants had to submit their application through a sponsoring coalition member. Parsons attended coalition meetings in Montgomery and secured coalition member Emily K. Pauli, Pharm D. director of research at the Clearview Cancer Institute in Huntsville. This grant is the first of its kind offered by the Alabama Department of Public Health – Cancer Prevention Division, and the benefits of this grant to RBHS will be beneficial for countless students and students for years to come.

“Red Bay High School is a pre-K through 12 public school,” said RBHS principal Kenny Sparks. “Currently 826 students attend. The school’s after school program has 58 children enrolled. Summer youth program enrolled 70 children last year. City Youth League also use the school facilities for their youth programs, which is reported to have 124 children participate. All of these children and future generations will be impacted by the installation of a shade structure.”

The grant is valued at a maximum of $15,000. Mayor David Tiffin and the Red Bay City Council agreed to match the funds, adding an additional $15,000 to the total funds. In addition to this, the Franklin County Community Development Commission contributed $5,000, and the Franklin County School System contributed $2,009.60.

One shade structure is located just outside of the lunchroom for high school students to sit under during break, and one is placed on the elementary playground. Besides these two structures, a third structure was installed to be used as a shade/outdoor classroom.

Hargett, with the SADD organization, donated $4,351.00 toward the structure.

The total contributions brought this project’s value to $41,360.60.

This project was highly anticipated by the students, faculty and staff at RBHS, thanks to Parsons’ and Hargett’s many activities making students aware of the dangers of skin cancer. Hargett and her HOSA students made weekly announcements stating facts related to skin cancer and offering tips and ways to prevent it. An assembly was also held in which a PowerPoint presentation showed the effects of the sun and harmful UV rays. Elementary physical education teacher Donnie Hastings distributed UV bracelets to the children that would change colors once they were exposed too long to UV rays. Hastings charted the changing bracelet color each day. Richard Boyd’s science classes placed posters in the hallway educating students about the harmful UV rays, and students signed a promise not to abuse the sun during the upcoming spring break. Tiffin also signed a proclamation recognizing May as skin cancer awareness month. Hargett, along with creating posters to display, takes her HOSA group to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital each year for a tour and to present donations for cancer prevention and research.

The shade structure project has been an ongoing process for Parsons and Hargett for quite some time. Parsons received notification of the grant award in late March 2016, and the project was finally completed in late September 2016.

Thanks to the work of these women and the generosity of so many, children can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors a little more safely now.