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Local students, community reap Scholars rewards

While student numbers may be down a little, Mississippi Scholarsparticipants continue to reap the rewards of pursuing the morechallenging curriculum the program encourages.

This past Monday, 168 students were honored as Mississippi Scholarsduring an annual banquet at Easthaven Baptist Church. In all, closeto 600 people – including parents, university representatives,local and state program officials – were on hand to recognize thesestudents’ outstanding achievements.

The number of students graduating this year as Mississippi Scholarsis down a little from last year’s total of more than 200. Programofficials suggested the decline was due to a new 95 percentattendance rule and normal fluctuations from year to year in classsizes.

Nevertheless, selected students shared in a record $106,000 inscholarship funds. This year’s total, divided among 96 localscholars, eclipsed last year’s amount by almost $15,000.

About $40,000 in available scholarship funds was “left on thetable” because there weren’t enough students to claim money offeredby participating colleges and universities. State college anduniversity officials have expressed interest in increasing theirlocal visibility and recruiting efforts to attract students totheir schools.

That a community of Lincoln County’s size is able to do what itdoes with Mississippi Scholars is a testament to the commitment oflocal program coordinators and the support it receives from localbusinesses. Brookhaven’s program is by far the benchmark forsuccess in Mississippi, and it has been recognized nationally forits success.

But the primary beneficiaries of the local program’s growingsuccess are the students themselves.

By accepting the challenge to pursue more rigorous courses andclasses, they are better prepared when they continue to college oropt to enter the workforce straight from high school. And for thosewho choose the college path, the possibility of scholarship help isan added bonus.

Mississippi Scholars produces students who will be better workersand more committed to their communities.

On a secondary level, that will help the community as far as futureeconomic development and opportunities for future generations. Andthat is a reward we all can share in during prosperous yearsahead.