3 JMCSS middle schools awarded grants to receive hydration stations

This shows what an Elkay hydration station looks like that will be put in three JMCSS middle schools.
This shows what an Elkay hydration station looks like that will be put in three JMCSS middle schools.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic caused educational decision-makers to remove water fountains from their schools to slow the spread of the virus, educators have had to come up with different ways to help make sure students have access to water during the school day.

While many bring their own water from home to sip on throughout the day, there are always students who forget to bring a bottle or for some reason can’t bring one.

But one statewide company is helping to combat that problem.

Delta Dental is awarding grants to 55 elementary schools and 25 middle schools this year to install new hydration stations into their facilities.

Of the 25 middle schools that were awarded the grant, three are in Jackson – North Parkway, Northeast and West Bemis.

To view each school's video, click below:

According to a statement from Delta Dental, the grant program, first launched in 2020, aims to educate students on the benefits of drinking more water, as well as help make it more accessible during the school day. Schools are encouraged, but not required, to submit creative projects along with their grant applications that highlight how water is good for your health, what makes a healthy smile, or why the school needs a water bottle filling station.

North Parkway’s secretary, Tanjinikia Tyson, understood the assignment for a compelling video to stand out in the contest.

With a prolific drum beat and catchy lyrics, Tyson wrote a poem that turned into a rap. Tyson recruited a number of North Parkway students to wrap, dance and drink water in the video. After getting a number of short video clips, she then contacted a former coworker at Lincoln Elementary, Rachel Clark, to put the video together into the 100-second clip that won North Parkway the grant.

“Rachel sent the video back for me to look at, and I said ‘We’re going viral!’” said Tyson, who’s apparently got a knack for writing raps since she was asked to write one last summer for a teacher event before the school year. “A few people around here have started calling me Cardi T.”

John Haley’s STEM class at West Bemis put their school’s video together.

“It was honestly a fun experience, which also being an educational experience for us kids to do,” said a statement from the class. “We all developed a sense of teamwork and careful planning while making the ‘Water’s Cool at School’ skit.

“It was all laughs from scholars and teachers from our school. We are all very proud of the video we created and are excited for other people to enjoy it just as much as we did.”

Delta Dental President Phil Wenk said the fact that three Jackson schools were selected is a testament to the creativity present in Jackson-Madison County Schools.

“Think about that percentage, we’re awarding 25 grants across the state and three of those 25 are from the same city,” Wenk said. “And we don’t have a set number like this many in East Tennessee, this many in Middle and this many in West.

“We took submissions and had a committee judge which ones were the most memorable, and Jackson had three that made the grade. Congratulations to them.”

Reach Brandon Shields at bjshields@jacksonsun.com or at 731-425-9751. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or on Instagram at editorbrandon.

This article originally appeared on Jackson Sun: 3 JMCSS middle schools awarded grants to receive hydration stations