Leaders prep for Scholar visits

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 2, 2007

Community business leaders met at the Brookhaven-Lincoln CountyChamber of Commerce Thursday for Mississippi Scholars presenters’training.

The Mississippi Scholars program is one that allows schools toprepare students for college and the real world by letting thempursue an advanced curriculum. The presentations by businessvolunteers focus on children in eighth grade who are about toselect their courses for their ninth grade year.

Thursday’s meeting attendees will present a power-pointpresentations in area schools and stress to students the importanceof enrolling in the more rigorous areas of study through their highschool years, which readies them for the challenges of college orthe work force.

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“As long as we have openings in our schedule, we still need morepresenters,” said Kay Burton, of the Chamber of Commerce. “We’vegot 70-something presentations to do and 20-something peoplehere.”

Volunteers were allowed to sign up for time slots that fit theirschedules. It is up to the presenters to explain the program to thechildren and faculty, as well as to encourage children by showingthem the difference in unskilled labor wages and skilled wages.

Last year, presenters in the Brookhaven area addressed over1,200 students, and there were eight $500 scholarships awarded tostudents. This year, the program hopes to net not only morevolunteers, but more businesses willing to donate scholarship moneylocally.

“A lot of the kids who get these local scholarships won’t be thestraight-A students,” said Kenny Goza, chairman of the MississippiScholars Initiative. “We’re looking for kids who are involved inthe community and have good attendance, too.”

The program is a four-year program and zeros in on meeting newrequirements for admissions policies for Institutions of HigherLearning (IHL). Students must have four credits before graduationin the subject areas of math, English/language arts, science, andsocial studies. They must also have one credit in visual orperforming arts, as well as two years in one foreign language.

Additionally, students are expected to complete 20 hours ofcommunity or volunteer service over four years while maintaining a2.5 GPA and a 95 percent school attendance record. They must alsohave a letter of recommendation from the principal or guidancecounselor.

“Sometimes the word ‘scholar’ scares them a little,” said VickiePowell of state Mississippi Scholars program. “We need to let themknow they don’t have to have a perfect GPA; they just have to keepa 2.5 average.”