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Students honored for mentoring

Eleven Brookhaven High School students were among hundreds whoearned scholarships for college during the 2003 MentoringScholarship Awards Luncheon held in Jackson Friday.

Sponsored by the Mississippi Mentoring Network, the luncheon wasan effort to reward some of the state’s students who have freelyvolunteered of their time this past year to mentor in the BigBrother-Big Sister program.

“I just want to congratulate our mentors. You’re playing a veryimportant role in Mississippi, and we’re changing it one child at atime,” Attorney General Mike Moore told the students.

Moore, who is also the network’s chairman, said Mississippi’sBig Brother-Big Sister program is the largest and fastest growingin America. He credited the state’s program’s success to the closeproximity in age of the majority of its mentors to their’littles’.

“We have found that (high school) seniors are remarkable rolemodels for young people,” he said.

Moore expressed his approval over how well the state program hasbeen going and the change in the lives of the students who havementors.

“This is something really special that we’ve got going on inMississippi. I feel really blessed being here today,” saidMoore.

Scholarships awarded during the event totaled over $200,000,with students individually earning $5,000, $2,500, $2,000 and$1,000. Overall scholarships amounts were up from last year and theyear before, with the help of donations from individuals andbusinesses, according to network officials.

Madison Central High School led the way with more than 30 oftheir students earning awards, topping Brookhaven High School,which has been at the forefront in previous years.

“Madison Central, you whooped Brookhaven this year,” Moore toldthe students, “but their superintendent is here and he wants arematch.”

Two BHS students, Lacie Turpin and Monesca Smith, received$2,500 scholarships. Receiving $2,000 scholarships were DanelleNunaley, James Ratcliff Jr. and Judson Langston. Winners of $1,000scholarships were Bethany Bales, Belma Cager, Sadie Corban,Courtney Jackson, Nateshia Lewis and Anna Smith.

Starkville High School senior Tamra Stevenson walked away withthe biggest cash award, a $25,000 scholarship to the school of herchoice. Overcoming shyness and dyslexia, Stevenson was named thewinner of the Mike Moore Spirit Award, named in honor of theattorney general.

In acceptance of her honor, Stevenson had very few words tosay.

“Thank you for my scholarship,” she murmured.

Winners of the $5,000 scholarships were allowed time to givethanks for their awards. Their speeches of helping children lessfortunate than them or those who just do not get enough attentionat home left many in tears.

Network officials said all the students are proof that ‘oneperson can make a difference.’

“I think I cried today more than I ever have,” said Moore to thementors. “The reason we teared up is because we’re proud of you andthis is really working. You made us laugh. You made us feel goodabout ourselves and feel good about Mississippi.”