Volunteers prep for Miss. Scholars presentations

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 16, 2006

Beginning next week, area business volunteers will be visitinglocal classrooms to promote enrollment in the Mississippi ScholarsInitiative.

The program aims to motivate junior high and high schoolstudents to pursue more college preparatory courses.

“What we’re doing is encouraging students to take rigorous,challenging courses while in high school,” said programrepresentative Lisa Jones Thursday during a training session forvolunteers.

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Approximately 25 volunteers from the community have signed up tomake presentations. Jones said 50 presentations are scheduled,starting next week and going through February.

Jones said students hear about the importance of taking collegeprep classes from teachers and parents. However, business peoplecan offer a different perspective and real world experience whenrelaying the college prep message.

“It makes a difference when business people want to be in theclassroom…,” Jones said. “You may be the influence some studentsneed, the voice of encouragement they need.”

Participating in the program are the Brookhaven School District,the Lincoln County School District, Brookhaven Academy and theMississippi School of the Arts. Presentations will be made ineighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh grade classes.

“We have a different presentation for each grade level,” Jonessaid.

Citing statistics, Jones said only 40 percent of students pursuea college preparatory curriculum.

“That means 60 percent do not,” she said.

Jones said research shows a strong link between coursescompleted in high school and pursuit of post secondary educationand success later in life.

One factor in whether students pursue college is the rigor ofhigh school course work, Jones said. Those who face morechallenging high school courses, particularly in math and science,are more likely to go on to college.

That is where the Mississippi Scholars program comes in. Itrevolves around a course of study similar to the college prepcurriculum.

The Scholars program requires four credits of English, threecredits of math, three credits of science, four credits of socialstudies and two foreign language credits.

For this year’s eighth graders, the program adds otherrequirements. Those include 20 hours of community service, acumulative 2.5 grade point average throughout the rest of school,95 percent attendance and a letter of recommendation.

Students who complete the program will receive a medallion and aseal will be placed on their permanent school transcript, Jonessaid. Local volunteers are planning other incentives and efforts torecognize the student achievement.

Volunteers Thursday were encouraged by the training and alludedto the initiative’s benefits for students

“This program will definitely help them a lot in preparing forcollege,” said Gary Blair, of Brookhaven.