Education is truly a community effort

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 27, 2013

Garrick Combs, Kay Burton, and the employees and volunteers at the Brookhaven-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce have to be button-popping proud of the attendance at Monday’s 81st annual meeting and dinner. The event was held at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

According to Garrick, more than 220 community leaders attended and enjoyed the dinner and music provided by Co-Lin college students.

As this was the annual meeting, the business of the Chamber was discussed. The report was very good and outgoing president Pat Lowery has every reason to be proud of his year of service. Incoming president Dustin Walker pointed out that his officers and board members are eager to continue the momentum.

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The success of the chamber reflects the success of the local business community. I encourage you, if not already involved, to please consider how you may become involved. Our community needs everyone pitching in!

Education is one of the most important issues to which any chamber of commerce and community can devote its influence and time. K-12 education and beyond in public and private schools, as well as spiritual education provided by churches and families, provides the foundation on which our future is built. Without an educated population, we will not be able to supply the skilled workforce required today and beyond.

I was encouraged to hear discussion of the Mississippi Scholars program that is supported by donations from Brookhaven-Lincoln County businesses as well as Mississippi colleges and universities. Since the program’s inception in 2006, more than $650,000 has been raised through donations and earned by students from all schools in Brookhaven and Lincoln County.

Students agree in the ninth grade to take a more rigorous course of study throughout high school, including advanced math and science courses, maintain a 2.5 GPA, reach 95 percent attendance and perform 40 hours of community service.

The 2013 school year saw 205 high school graduates earn $140,000 in college scholarships valued from $250 to $8,000 through Mississippi Scholars.

Considering the cost of college today, many any of these students probably could not have afforded college. The fact that they personally accepted the challenge and completed the requirements should be a point of pride for all of us.

Recognizing the importance of education and building a program that warrants business, community and educators’ support and accomplishes well-thought-out goals will serve not only current students, but will also help the families of those future students.

There is a phrase many have used, “It takes a village to raise a child.” To me it means that raising a child takes the collective efforts of all those who come into contact with a child. The Mississippi Scholars program, and those who support it, certainly understand how important education is to a child and are willing to provide a helping hand to students who choose to work hard and earn a scholarship.

Children in Brookhaven and Lincoln County schools can know that, if they are willing to put forth the effort that meets the scholarship requirements, they can count on community support!

Otis Raybon is the publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at or (601) 833-6961.