OGUE awarded $90K megagrant

Oak Grove Upper Elementary School plans to make some physical changes in the school’s AgArt and physical education programs after Principal Heather Roland said the school received a Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation grant of more than $90,000.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” Roland said earlier this week after Oak Grove Upper Elementary School was awarded a $96,980 grant. “We have a whole list of things that we would like to do.”

The school has become well known all over the state for its AgArt program, coordinated by teacher Heather Giger. Last year, a $6,970 sheet metal horse barn was added to the garden and a greenhouse was planned.

The barn measures 42 feet long and 26 feet wide. The Lamar County School Board approved its purchase with a Plum Creek grant at the Sept. 6 meeting.

“We are hoping to add electricity and water to the garden and the barn with the current setup,” Roland said. “We want to put flooring in the barn and irrigation so that we can truly use the barn as a classroom. We are also going to build a greenhouse in that area. We are going to put some steppingstones in the garden and really just add some details to round out the garden and the barn.”

On the physical education side, more projects are in the works.

“We are also planning a ropes course and a rock wall that will be used in our physical education classes,” she said.

A teachers’ fitness center will be completed, Roland said.

“We haven’t forgotten about our teachers,” she said. “We had already started putting some exercise equipment in part of the school for our teachers and we are going to make a complete fitness center for them. We think that will be an asset for us in the long run.”

The school got the grant with help from Blue Cross Blue Shield Health and Fitness Coordinator Eugenia King.

“I received an email last year about grants of $25,000 that are awarded to the Healthy Schools,” Roland said. “A group of us visited elementary school schools in Ocean Springs and Madison and Mrs. King really got the ball rolling. She suggested that we should apply for a general grant. We heard back on May 8.”

Roland said she hopes to start construction on the projects during the summer.

“We had received quotes on the equipment, but those quotes have expired,” she said. “However, the companies said they would honor the quotes.”