Brookhaven Elementary students greet First Lady Reeves, ask questions

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Students Evie Webb, Dottie Nations, Alvin Giddens, D’ryia Renfro, Ada Barney and Gage Windham welcomed Mississippi First Lady Elee Reeves to Brookhaven Elementary School Tuesday. Reeves visited the school to give an overview of her children’s activity book called “Mississippi’s Fred the Turtle.”

Brookhaven Elementary School’s welcoming committee was selected from Traci Whittington’s Quest Class. Principal LaTronda Gayten said Quest is a more hands on and critical thinking based class where students cover a variety of topics. Right now, students are studying ancient Egypt and learning hieroglyphics. 

“She chose students who were well rounded and not shy,” Gayten said.

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While the students were not shy, they had some nerves when Reeves stepped out of her motorcade. In the auditorium, students were silent as they listened to the Brookhaven Police Department escort Reves to the school. 

Brookhaven Elementary rolled out a red carpet with a panther and balloons to welcome Reeves to the school. She shook hands with each student on the welcome committee and greeted each of them. 

“It was exciting. When she first came in, I got to shake her hand,” Giddens said. “I was able to learn a lot about her and sea turtles today. I am inspired to help more sea animals.” 

Webb and Nations said it was “nerve wracking and exciting,” to meet Reeves. After an introduction, she explained why she wrote the book on a sea turtle named Fred who travels Mississippi to return to the sea. 

He was accidentally caught by a fisherman, Reeves explained but eventually finds his way back to the Gulf of Mexico. The sea turtle is named Fred because her imaginary friend growing up was named Fred, Reeves said. 

Webb said the visit “inspired me to think about animals,” and Nations “learned sea turtles could lay hundreds of eggs in one year.” Renfro said she also learned about sea turtles and had another takeaway from the other students. 

“I learned a lot, like I didn’t know turtles came in different colors,” Renfro said. “She also told us to visit the State capitol in Mississippi. I’m excited about the activity book.” 

Reeves took time to field questions from the students. One student asked who the most famous person she had met was, another asked her if she had any more imaginary friends and one student asked if sea turtle Fred had any more friends. 

Reeves said the students will see Fred develop a friendship with the fisherman as they travel across Mississippi. 

“The fisherman tells Fred he will be his friend and to not be nervous,” Reeves said. “You can be a friend by listening and helping.” 

She offered some parting words of encouragement to the students before posing for a photo with the welcoming committee. The students waved goodbye as she walked out the door and left Brookhaven Elementary. Barney was happy with how the visit went. 

“It was fun. Her coming to our school made it fun,” Barney said. “I have not met a First Lady before. I plan to visit the capitol and see more of Mississippi after this.”