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Scholars program benefits all of us

Lincoln County students who have completed the Mississippi Scholars program were honored this past weekend at an awards ceremony and reception. A list of those students is published in a special section in today’s edition.

The Mississippi Scholars program is able to provide scholarships because of the generous donations of private individuals, businesses and community colleges and universities. They see the value in encouraging students to excel in the classroom and in their communities, and donate accordingly.

The program’s requirements are academically rigorous, but the community service and attendance requirements are just as vital to the success of students. The program requires that students complete 40 hours of community service during four years of high school. While that’s just 10 hours of service a year, it forces students to be aware of service opportunities in the communities. Those 40 hours also teach students to give back, something that’s sadly lacking in many high school students.

The attendance requirement is also important — students must have 95 percent attendance throughout high school. While that may seem silly to some, we know that simply showing up for class is sometimes half the battle of succeeding in college. The same goes for a job. Establishing a habit of showing up will prepare students for life after high school.

The program has more benefits than we can list here, but at its core it simply incentivizes the kind of academic and civic engagement that we seek for all students. Students who complete the program are better prepared for college or a technical school. Some likely wouldn’t go to either without the help of the Mississippi Scholars program.

A better-educated population benefits all of us in Lincoln County, and we are grateful for the work of those who make the program a success. We are also grateful for the many individuals who donate to this worthy cause. Your contributions make Lincoln County a better place.