Scholars program sees big response

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 9, 2009

Mississippi Scholars presenters have begun to infiltrate theschools again this year, bringing the message of relevance of theprogram to students from eighth to 11th grades.

Mississippi Scholars organizer Kay Burton said the beginning ofthe presentations this year has gone incredibly well. Sheattributes the positive start to the credibility of the program,which has improved every year as the community has seen scholarshipamounts climbing and enrollment in the program skyrocketing.

“I have to say it’s the smoothest year ever, this year we’vegotten to that point to where everyone involved from the schooladministration to our pool of presenters, we’ve got a good line ofcommunication and a good system,” she said.

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More than 40 presenters have begun talking to classrooms allover the county, telling students how enrolling in the moreinclusive and rigorous program will help them when they graduatefrom high school and enter college or the workforce. Burton saidthe fact that the presenters believe in the program is helping kidscatch the enthusiasm.

“I think the people that go in the schools love it and it shows,and the kids enjoy seeing the presentations and learning how itapplies to their lives,” she said.

In addition, the junior class this year were eighth graders inthe first year of the program, so they have actually been raised inthe importance of the program.

“They’re listening and thinking, and that’s the value of theprogram,” Burton said. “It helps students to see how valuable thetime they spend in school is, and how what they choose to do duringhigh school will help them in their life choices. I love theprogram for that.”

Program organizers also decided to find a way to further informparents this year, sending home literature on Mississippi Scholarsso students will receive reinforcement at home. Burton said theinformation details the program and requirements, as well as thescholarships available and the banquet for seniors graduating asMississippi Scholars every year.

“We’re trying to get more information to parents, so we’ve put aletter together with the course of study requirements, especiallyfor the first year that the kids can sign up,” Burton said.

And this year the program also is sending teams of twopresenters each to as many classrooms as possible, to give studentsdifferent perspectives on how the program helps them in the longrun.

“It gives another dimension to the presentation to have a team,and it serves a two-fold purpose,” she said. “There’s moreknowledge and application, and there are two people with two pointsof reference. Also if someone isn’t as comfortable making apresentation, they have someone else to help them along.”

Burton said presenters will be in schools through March,encouraging participation in Mississippi Scholars. Last year 163students graduated in the program, and more than $37,000 inscholarships were awarded.

More information is available on the Mississippi Scholarsprogram at