Scholars program a shining example

Published 11:06pm Saturday, April 26, 2014

This Monday night, the hard work and dedication of 175 local high school seniors will be recognized when they are honored as graduates of the Lincoln County Mississippi Scholars program.

Starting in the ninth grade, the scholars program challenges students to meet rigorous requirements involving grades, school attendance and community service. The program instills values that give the students a firm foundation for the next stage of their education, said Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Marketing Director Kay Burton. “It also will make them good employees when they get out in the workforce,” she added.

New to Mississippi Scholars this year is the Mississippi Tech Master Scholars, which broaden the program’s focus into technical areas as well as college prep. Ten students will be recognized Monday as Tech Master graduates. Nine of them will have the dual distinction of being Mississippi Scholars graduates as well.

One thing the Mississippi Scholars program is also known for is handing out college scholarships. This year, every participating student who applied is getting a scholarship, Burton said. The Lincoln County program has presented more than $750,000 in scholarships since 2006, and this is the third year that 100 percent who applied have received grants for college.

Presenting scholarships requires donations, and many service clubs, businesses and individuals in the area have dug deep into their pockets to help. Burton said this year saw a 25 percent increase in local donations.

She cited the hard work of this year’s scholarship chairs, Lori Carter and Sloane Smith, in helping achieve the jump in contributions. Burton noted another factor in the jump in giving might have been the fact that the program achieved 501(c)(3)tax-exempt status in February.

Burton also recognized the hard work of countless numbers of volunteers who help with the scholars program at banquet time and throughout the year.

The shining achievement of these 175 scholars will be recognized Monday night during the program at Easthaven Church. But standing behind each those students is a community unified in its support of education.

“It is a great example of our community spirit,” Burton said.