School program seeking volunteers for new year

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Mississippi Scholars initiative is a chance for schools toprepare students for college and the real world by letting thempursue an advanced curriculum.

“This program stresses passing rigorous courses as opposed tomaking As in remedial courses,” said Kay Burton, program directorfor the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce. “It focuseson college and workforce preparation.”

The initiative, started by the Mississippi Economic Council,places business people in classrooms to challenge students to takethe Mississippi Scholars Course of Study. The visits take place inthe early spring, just before students make out their courseschedules for the next year.

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“There is a certain required curriculum. If they meet all thecriteria through the counselor, they are a Mississippi Scholar,”said Kenny Goza, local chairman. “We had probably 25 volunteerslast year to do the presentations to over 1,200 students.”

This year, the training session for business leaders who want togive time to the program will be held the week of January 22.

The Mississippi Scholars Program has stated a desire for everyMississippi student to “increase their high school academic rigor.”Ideally, this offers students a greater number of opportunities asthey attend college or join the workforce.

“It’s driven by the community leadership, and what happens isthat business leaders go into the schools and do presentationsencouraging students to take advanced curriculum courses ratherthan remedial to prepare them for college and workplace,” saidGoza.

Those spearheading the initiative are looking for help in twoareas: They need volunteers from the community to speak to the areaschools, and they need people and businesses willing to sponsorscholarships.

“We’re looking for help with funding,” said Burton. “Our goal isto get where every Mississippi Scholar has a scholarship. This isgoing to take money and time commitments.”

Goza said the community was more than receptive last year, whichwas the pilot year for the program.

“They’ve been very open-armed to it, very supportive of it,” hesaid. “It encourages the kids in their classes and brings thebusiness community into the classroom.”

Business people interested in getting involved in the program,whether as a speaker or sponsoring a scholarship, are encouraged tocall the chamber or visit the Web site

“It’s not about making As, it’s about being prepared,” saidGoza.