Mississippi Scholars Program

Some local school districts are adopting a program which could help students get more scholarships. This year Lauderdale County and Meridian Public Schools are joining more than 80 districts in the state that are taking part in the Mississippi Scholars Program.

Adopted by 88 school districts, the program was established about 10 years ago. It utilizes local business leaders to motivate 8th grade students to successfully complete a rigorous course of study during high school.

"The courses are there because you'll find a lot of students already taking these courses. We're trying to get more students to take more rigorous classes," says Debbie Mathis, who is the education coordinator for the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation. She says students who successfully complete this program are often eligible for more scholarships.

"I know that Brookhaven has had this program in place for six to eight years and they've awarded over a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships to Mississippi Scholars."

Officials from Meridian Community College are also praising the program as a way to decrease the number of students who take remedial courses.

"The amount of developmental education would probably decline, and that's a good thing, and we would just have students who have a solid academic background," says MCC Operations Vice-President, Barbara Jones. "I think it also would help us to be able to look at curriculum changes that we might want to do."

Jones also stresses that the program will benefit local employers by preparing an even better workforce.

"Whether it's in critical thinking, work ethic or just the background for math and science and communication that the students need to be successful, these skills will also benefit employers."

Local students who successfully complete the program will be honored with a banquet and medallion at the end of their senior year.

Since its start more than 20,000 students have been recognized by the Mississippi Scholars Program.