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oakley prescription sunglasses 'We're ready:' MCPSS magnet school staff gears up for third move in four years (photos)CHICKASAW, Alabama Michelle Adams, principal of the MCPSS Magnet School of Math, Science Technology, and her staff are gearing up for the magnet school s third move in four years. The Mobile County school board voted Feb. 7 to move the magnet school and its 357 students, currently housed at Hamilton Elementary in Chickasaw, When schools Superintendent Martha Peek met with parents at the school on Feb. 13, the parents applauded the move to Eichold-Mertz, Adams said. We re ready, she said, adding that the magnet school parents have always been very supportive over the years, volunteering to clean classrooms and stocking the library for the most recent move to Hamilton Elementary. They re invested in the program, Adams said. The move to Eichold-Mertz will be completed in time for the start of the 2014-15 school year, and will expand the magnet school s enrollment to 800. The magnet s moves In 2010, the magnet school was moved from an aging campus on Craft Highway in Chickasaw to the newly renovated school building on Twelfth Avenue (now renamed Chieftain Way), but shortly after teachers and staffers moved in, the city of Chickasaw announced its intention to split from the Mobile County school system. The Mobile County school system then with the understanding that the newly-formed Chickasaw City Schools system would take possession of the building within four years. Students are accepted into the magnet school program by lottery, with the goal of having close to an equal number of black and white students. Parents are attracted to sending their children to magnet schools because of the advanced and specialized curricula offered. Students don t have to have a particular grade point average to get in, but they must maintain a C average and a clean disciplinary record. Changes ahead When the school board decided to move the magnet school to Eichold-Mertz, some parents expressed worry about how their children would be able to perform in the magnet school environment. There are a lot of myths about magnet schools and who is enrolled, Adams said. All children are welcomed. We ll help you with the application process. If you re interested in a challenging, highly motivated learning environment, you ll get a strong return on your investment, and that s a promise. The move means that Eichold-Mertz and the magnet school teachers will all fill out mandatory transfer forms and re-apply for their jobs. School officials consulted with the principals of the six schools involved in the move to make decisions about rezoning, to make sure the changes won t be a huge inconvenience, Adams said. Also, parents may apply for a hardship transfer if they re not happy with the school their child is assigned to attend. Most of the schools involved with the rezoning --Craighead, Hall, Leinkauf, Maryvale, Morningside and Spencer-Westlawn elementary schools --have shown a decline in enrollment in the last few years, because more Mobilians are moving west. Rezoning the Eichold-Mertz students to the other schools will make all of the schools more viable, because a decline in enrollment leads to a loss of teacher units, said Rena Philips, the school system s supervisor of marketing and community partnerships. They ll gain in enrollment and in staff; some may even gain an assistant principal, she said. School tour During a recent tour of the MCPSS magnet school, Adams showed her guests the science lab, where students take part in hands-on experiments; the technology lab, where students conduct online research for history projects; and the math lab, where students were manipulating small strips of paper with multiplication facts on them. The students take part in one of the specialized labs for 45 minutes each day. By aligning and realigning the math facts in different rows, the fourth-graders gain a new perspective on multiplication, rather than relying on straight memorization of math facts, said Marcia Autterson, who leads the math lab. We want them to understand why 5 times 6 equals 30, she said. In the science lab, Lorie Pagan was helping a group of third-graders conduct an experiment in chromatography, separating mixtures of colors. The concept was changes that water can make, and each student made a mark on a coffee filter with green ink, then used a dropper to add four drops of water to the mark, four seconds apart. Record your observations, Pagan told the class. In the school s media center, the students read 3,000 to 4,000 books each month, mostly online, according to Monica Aplin, media specialist. However, students still read actual books, and also come to the library to learn about the Dewey Decimal system. MCPSS Magnet is part of the school system s BYOD, or now known as miDevice, in which students bring in tablets, e-readers or other electronic devices to use in the classroom. Using a grant from the school system, Adams also purchased Samsung Galaxies for students who can t afford their own devices. Public hearing The Mobile County school board will hold a on the magnet school and rezoning at 5 p.m. on March 13 at Craighead Elementary School. The first hearing was held Feb. 27 at Eichold-Mertz. The Eichold-Mertz students will be rezoned for the five nearby elementary schools: Craighead, Hall, Leinkauf, Maryvale and Morningside. Several students will also be rezoned to attend Spencer-Westlawn Elementary. Maps of the new zones will be available at the hearing. The is Friday, Feb. 28. For more information, go to the school system's website, .