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State AG praises local students’ mentoring work

The efforts of several hundred high school mentors in the BigBrothers Big Sisters program were recognized Thursday during aspecial reception at the Brookhaven Recreation Department.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, guest speaker for theevent, complimented the high school students for working so hard tomake a difference in the lives of the elementary students theymentored this year. He noted that the Brookhaven center has one ofthe top programs in the nation.

“You should really be proud of Brookhaven and Lincoln County,”said Hood.

Hood took the opportunity to talk with the approximately 50juniors and seniors in attendance, asking them about theirexperiences.

Brookhaven High School senior Jacositi Banks discussed how sheworked to begin a relationship with her “little” at the first ofthe year. She has seen it blossom into a wonderful friendship.

“We both had to learn to trust each other, because it takestwo,” she said.

Hood thanked the students for volunteering their time andencouraged them to continue their efforts in college and throughoutlife. He explained to the students how their mentoring touched somany lives.

“You may not be impacting just one kid; you may be impactingseveral kids because your kids (littles) have friends,” said Hood.”Kids will listen to other kids better than adults.”

The advisory board for the Big Brothers Big Sisters ofMississippi Brookhaven center was also recognized and complimentedfor its efforts to have a strong mentoring program in theBrookhaven and Lincoln County school districts.

“What could be more important than teaching our children toextend a hand to someone in need? What could be more important thanshowing a student that someone loves them,” said Brookhaven SchoolDistrict Assistant Superintendent Lea Barrett.

Education officials pointed out that not only does the programboost the self-esteem of mentorees, it also makes them moreinterested in school.

After just one year of participation in the program, LincolnCounty Superintendent of Education Terry Brister noticed asignificant difference.

“You will see children who did not want to come to school,children who did not want to learn,” he said. “These kids, now whenthey come to school, the first thing they do is ask, ‘Where’s myBig Brother?’ or ‘Where’s my Big Sister?'”

Barrett touted the success of the nationwide program celebratingits 100th year. She cited statistics showing reduced truancy, crimerate, alcohol use and drug use among participants.

Seniors who volunteered as mentors were given Big Brothers BigSisters key chains as keepsakes. The advisory board, Hood andschool officials also received tokens of appreciation.