• 77°

BHS students honored for work as mentors

JACKSON – Twenty-five high school students in the BrookhavenSchool District’s Big Brothers-Big Sisters Mentoring Programreceived over $49,000 in scholarship money Thursday in recognitionof their community involvement and willingness to helpchildren.

The totals each represented approximately 25 percent of the 101students honored from across the state and the $199,000 inscholarship money given by the Mississippi Mentoring Network. Thefrequency in which Brookhaven students’ names were called promptedseveral comments during a luncheon at a Jackson restaurant.

“Is anyone left in Brookhaven today?” asked Sandra Shelson, headof the children’s division in Attorney General Mike Moore’s office,as she read the list of scholarship recipients.

Scholarship amounts ranged from $1,000 to $5,000. To beeligible, students had to have mentored at least 100 hours, writean essay and have letters of recommendation from school andcommunity representatives.

Brookhaven High School seniors Katy Braden and Daniel Gates wereamong seven students to receive $5,000 scholarships.

“Once you help these kids, they, in turn, want to help others,”Braden said when given the chance to address the audience ofhonored students, parents and mentor program officials.

Braden said the second grader she mentored began tutoringkindergartners and was excited when they showed improvement.

Gates said being a mentor was a lot of fun but it also taughthim that “eyes are always on you.”

“I feel like I’ve changed my little brother’s life,” a nervousGates told the audience. “It has been a privilege to be in thisprogram.”

Many students mentored a younger student for an hour or two eachweek. Moore praised the mentors and said their time will make a”profound difference forever” in the lives of the children.

“That one hour a week . . . is going to make a lifetime ofdifference,” Moore said.

Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck expressed similar comments in her remarks tothe mentoring students, whom she referred to as “Mississippi’sfinest.”

“We appreciate your selfless devotion,” Tuck said. “Thementoring program has made a difference in the lives of many in ourstate.”

Tuck said the impact that the program has on mentored children,their families and the mentors themselves is a “gift that moneycan’t buy.”

“Mississippi is truly a better place because of this program,”Tuck said.

Tuck credited Moore for implementing the mentoring network. Shesaid Mississippi is a state known for caring about others, and “youmentors are the most wonderful example of that.”

State Auditor Phil Bryant, accompanied by the nine-year-oldstudent he mentors, said being a mentor takes time and is aresponsibility, but it is also a blessing. The auditor said hehoped to involve others and get them to be mentors.

“I believe it is going to be the key to future success in thestate of Mississippi,” Bryant said.

Other Brookhaven High School seniors honored included:

* $2,500 Scholarships – Brandi Etheridge, Angela Gearing andRonnye Gill.

* $2,000 Scholarships – Ryan Adams, Beth Ballard, Shunta Brooks,Beth Chapman, Bridget Dunn, Holly Hammond, Gregory Kern Hoff, LouisMartin, Chad Moore, Candice Quinn and Charlette Williams. Loyd StarHigh School senior Mary Porch, who participated in the city schooldistrict’s mentor program, also received a $2,000 scholarship.

* $1,000 Scholarships – Shammarick Butler, Ashley Hall, AshleyJones, Jamela Martin, Devine Porter, LaTasha Smith, Amie White andCrystal Wiley.

Susie Patrick, case worker for the Brookhaven Big Brother-BigSisters program, said officials were proud of the high schoolstudent and have been very successful with them. Adults areinvolved in mentoring older students while the high school studentsfocus on mentoring kindergarten through fourth graders, Patricksaid.

“Some of them have two children that they’re mentoring,” sheadded.

Commenting on the number of Brookhaven scholarship recipients,Becky Hudgens, state Big Brothers-Big Sisters director of programs,said the local program has been hugely successful. She attributedthat to tremendous community support.

“Brookhaven is leading the way in high school kids gettinginvolved in community service,” Hudgens said.