Obama Magnet School

The Obama Magnet Playground Project, “Improving the Culture of Health in Our School,” was initiated in the fall of the 2018-2019 school year, when concern was expressed regarding student health, and the condition / safety of existing equipment and play areas at the school. The project was broken into multiple phases, based upon available funding. Phase I, which was completed in the summer of 2019, focused on the school’s north playground area and included the installation of a 6 seat swing-set, basketball goal, tetherball pole, storage unit, landscaping and renovations to the playground blacktop area. The cost to complete Phase I was approximately $20,000. Phase I was sponsored by Trustmark, Jack and Jill Foundation, Selby and Richard McRae Foundation, Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, Junior League of Jackson, Jackson Public Schools, Obama Magnet PTA, Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, BankPlus and Entergy. The Phase I playground dedication took place on September 13, 2019.

Thanks, in part, to the tremendous momentum created by our community partners, the Jack and Jill Foundation informed us on July 10, 2019 that they would commit $10,000 not only to finish Phase I but also allow for the second phase of the project to begin! Phase II focused on the south playground and would include repair and replacement of existing equipment, renovation of the blacktop area, renovation of a damaged basketball goal, and other improvements. This phase of the project was expected to be completed by the end of summer, 2020. Shortly after the Phase I playground dedication, additional fundraising began.

Several other Phase I sponsors returned to show their support! The Selby and Richard McRae Foundation donated a substantial $10,000 followed by additional support from the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, Junior League of Jackson, and Entergy! Jackson Public Schools participated, as well, by installing a much needed shade canopy for the south playground. The Obama Magnet PTA, once again, served as the 501(c)(3) sponsor for the project – providing funding and volunteer support. By summer of 2020, over $23,000 had been raised to complete Phase II!

The pandemic limited volunteer and student involvement and delayed completion of Phase II. Jackson Public Schools went into lockdown in March and never physically reopened at the elementary level, replacing traditional face to face instruction with virtual. Nevertheless, we were able to coordinate a contractor to help complete renovations to existing playground equipment. In addition, other Phase I contactors returned to assist with the project: Cleo’s Asphalt returned to handle the asphalt work, while David King Stenciling returned to reline and stencil the blacktop surface. To meet district pandemic protocols, a small, but hard working group of PTA volunteers was allowed on campus to assist with demolition, site preparation, stenciling and installation of the new basketball goal components. Phase II was finally completed November 15, 2020. A Phase II playground dedication will be scheduled during the spring of 2021, after school reopens.

To meet the physical, health and wellness needs of our students during lockdown, the Partnership for a Health Mississippi reached out to us offering virtual fitness activities and online resources. Barack H. Obama (Davis) Magnet Elementary is one of 32 elementary schools located in the Jackson Public School District. Located in the Greater Belhaven historic district near downtown Jackson, the school (previously named for Jefferson Davis) sits across the street from the childhood home of renowned writer Eudora Welty, who attended the school during her elementary years. The school, established in 1940, is known for its small, family environment and its commitment to progressive education. The school currently serves a student population of 230 K-5th grade children. 97% of the student population is African-American. All students receive breakfast and lunch meals at no cost as part of the Community Eligibility Program (CEP).

Community Partners:
Jack and Jill Foundation, Selby and Richard McRae Foundation, Junior League of Jackson, Jackson Public Schools, Obama Magnet PTA, Partnership for Healthy Mississippi, Entergy.