Clean Up Clinton

If you need something productive to do this weekend, grab your tools and garbage bags and head over to Clinton to help clean up the city! It’s Saturday, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., groups will meet at 202 West Leake Street.

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Jeb Bush scholarship dinner raises $313,000

Jeb Bush speaks at Mississippi College Wednesday

Jeb Bush speaks at Mississippi College Tuesday

Submitted by Mississippi College — Headlining Mississippi College’s Spring Scholarship dinner, Jeb Bush made a strong pitch for America to to strengthen its schools and called for the nation to adopt an economically driven immigration plan.

Sounding very much like a 2016 presidential candidate, the former Florida governor stopped short when asked if he’s going to make a run for the White House. “It’s best to make a decision at the proper time,’’ the 60-year-old GOP heavyweight told reporters at a news conference on the Clinton campus Tuesday.

But people keep asking, whether they are from the news media or folks he encounters at airports or Miami Heat basketball games.

Mississippi College President Lee Royce was the latest to toss the question his way at last evening’s banquet that raised $313,000 for student scholarships on the Clinton campus. Bush said he will consider whether it’s the right thing to do for his family and if he’s got something to offer the nation in terms of ideas.

Introducing the prominent Republican to the audience packing Anderson Hall, Gov. Phil Bryant said the Miami resident has proven to be a valuable asset to Mississippi by sharing his ideas about Florida’s charter schools and other education reforms in the Sunshine State. Many of the concepts now appear in Bryant’s “Education Works’’ initiatives before the state Legislature.

“Jeb Bush came to Mississippi at my request,’’ and sat down at the Mississippi Capitol with state leaders, Bryant said. “We will have successes because of Jeb Bush.’’

Bryant’s proposal ran into some trouble Tuesday when the House narrowly killed a version of his overall education package that includes charter schools, third-grade reading proficiencies, new measures for literacy skills for students in kindergarten through the third grade and higher standards to become future teachers. But the 60-58 vote doesn’t kill charter schools since a separate charter schools bill and other education legislation remains alive.

When asked about the pushback on the legislation pending in Mississippi, Bush advised lawmakers and others around the state to “listen to the governor (Bryant).’’ The reform package, he said, “makes a lot of sense.’’

Florida schools enacted many of the same things during his eight-year administration “and our learning gains are pretty good. Don’t feel threatened by this.’’

It’s obvious that the nation needs to ramp up its schools at a time when only one-third of the USA’s high school graduates are ready for college or careers,’’ Bush said. “That’s not a definition of a great country.’’

When as many as 60 percent of the nation’s high school graduates are taking remedial courses in college, “that’s unacceptable,’’ said the leader of a Florida-based foundation committed to improving America’s education system.

Whether the guest speaker talked about education, immigration reform, ideas to help the Republican Party overcome serious challenges, tackled rapid advances in technology, or discussed his famous political family, Bush was a hit with his Mississippi College audience. He also spoke earlier in the day to hundreds of MC students at Self Hall, home of the School of Business.

“All of his points were interesting. They were all things that need to be addressed in a future election,’’ said sophomore Megan Kaye Donahoe of Indianola. “His stand on education is accurate.’’

Said senior Christopher Gruning, 21, of Fort Myers, Florida: “I’m fully supportive. I love charter schools. I like their accountability. It is up to each school district.’’

Jeb Bush demonstrated successes as Florida governor, including balancing the budget, promoting job creation and keeping taxes low, said business professor Billy Morehead. He will bring much to the table in 2016 if the Republican luminary runs for president, he added.

With 75,000 Twitter followers, Bush said he always hears from people, but seldom lets criticism bother him. “I learn not to let criticism bug me.’’ But the son of President George H.W. Bush and brother of President George Bush, says it does get under his skin when folks slam members of his politically well-connected family. “If you love somebody, it is much harder.’’

On the future of the Republican Party that saw its presidential nominee Mitt Romney lose to President Barack Obama in November, Jeb Bush said the GOP needs to be more ”positive and hopeful’’ and do more things to “embrace the diversity of the country.’’ Republicans, he said, “can’t just be against the president’s policies. We need to be for things.’’

Jeb Bush is the latest in the lineup of notable speakers coming to Mississippi College’s spring scholarship banquets. Last year’s headliner was former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Since 2008, the annual dinners have raised more than $1.6 million for student scholarships at the Christian university.

Finally…

I learned how to make better videos to enhance my stories! Until yesterday I only knew how to shoot talking heads and random happenings in my beat, but I always wanted to get the formal training to produce videos that are informative, with emotion, good sound and make the audience feel like they’re with me. So, yesterday I went to Monroe, Louisiana with some colleagues to The News-Star for the Turbovideo training and met several reporters, photographers, online editors and multimedia journalists from other Gannett papers in Mississippi and Louisiana. It was fun and I learned a lot of valuable tools to do better visual reporting.

I don’t want to bore with you all that I took away from the experience, but I’d like to share a story video I put together. We all had to venture out into the city and find things to shoot. We ended up in West Monroe’s Antique Alley and it reminded me of main streets in Canton, Clinton and the Fondren area in Jackson. I took several photos, did an interview with a store owner, recorded audio clips, and pieced it together like a television news segment. Here’s the finished (amateur) product and my colleague Dustin Barnes makes a cameo appearance at the very end. Enjoy.

Donate blood in honor of Perry Tyner Tate

This Friday, Northside Elementary is hosting a blood drive in honor of Perry Tyner Tate, daughter of

Perry Tyner Tate

Perry Tyner Tate

Principal Joy Tyner.

The blood drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, March 22. There will be two buses in front of the Northside & Eastside campus on Arrow Drive.

Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ups will also be accepted. Mississippi College radio station 93.5 will be on site from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a live broadcast.

“Students will be taking home literature this week about the blood drive and will be trying to enlist donors,” said Elizabeth Shepherd, Northside counselor and blood drive coordinator.

Tyner said the event meets her goal of making sure Northside students participate in a philanthropic activity.

“This also meets several goals set by our health council,” she said. “And of course, it is especially meaningful to me that our health council wanted to host this event in Perry’s memory.”

Perry Tate died on Jan. 2 from hemophagocytic lymphohistiocystosis, a rare disease that affects 1 out of 1.2 million people. She was 23 years old.

In addition to the blood drive, there will be a station in the Northside atrium where donors may be swabbed and registered to become part of the bone marrow registry.

“Blood donors donate life every time they give blood,” said Tony Bahou, Mississippi Blood Services public relations manager. “ If it were not for partnerships through schools like Northside Elementary, fewer Mississippians would have a chance at life.”

Donors must be at least 17 years old (or 16 with signed parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds for females and 130 pounds for men, and have a valid ID. For additional information on blood donations, visit www.msblood.com or call Mississippi Blood Services at (888) 902-5663.

“Perry and I shared many passions, among them, our love for children,” Tyner said. “She spent her teenage and early adult years in service to children. Please join me in honoring Perry’s service to others by giving the gift of life.”

Submitted by Clinton Public School District

Successful Great American Cleanup for Keep the Rez Beautiful

I saw this video on Facebook, watched it and felt compelled to share it with you. I’ve known about Keep the Rez Beautiful for some time and this group of hard working volunteers stays busy making sure that the Reservoir area stays clean, healthy and a nice place for the animals and citizens.

The nonprofit held its third Great American Cleanup on March 9. Over 100 volunteers cleaned up litter on land and in the water and planted trees, cleaned up 2,500 pounds of litter from the streets and streams and planted 50+ trees and shrubs in the U.S.D.A.’s People’s Garden. Volunteers include Boy and Cub Scouts (including Cub Scout Pack 329) and St. Mark’s UMC Missions. Waste Management, Duncan Marine, Troy-Bilt, Beagle Bagel Cafe – Highland Village and Pearl River Valley Water Supply District sponsored our event. KRB partners included Keep Mississippi Beautiful, Adopt-a-Stream Mississippi, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Mississippi Department of Transportation and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

If you want to learn more about KRB, see the Facebook page. Enjoy the video!

East Metro Parkway corridor opens

I haven’t been to Flowood in some time, so I made sure to witness the ribbon cutting event at the newly finished East Metro Parkway corridor. Joe McGee Construction did the project (same as the Canton bypass), the 2.5 mile road connects the city to Brandon. I’m especially excited because this eliminates the need to use the interstate! Check out the photos and enjoy the videos (which came out blurry for some reason. Mayor Gary Rhoads and Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall are speaking).


Students can visit outer space…through balloon photos!

DCIM101GOPROEver since daredevil Felix Baumgartner jumped from that space capsule above Earth and broke the sound barrier, I’ve been fascinated by photos I get from Madison County schools that participate in near-space balloon launches. Here’s something I received from the city of Ridgeland. Enjoy!

At Olde Towne Middle School, teachers Bobby Robinson and Bill Richardson have taken science and technology to an entirely new level. On any given day at OTMS, students may find themselves using photosynthetic lasers, calculating accelerations and velocities of rockets, learning flight simulations, creating pyrotechnic chemical reactions or building robots.

The objectives are simple: to engage students in hands-on activities, to promote critical thinking skills needed to solve future issues, to increase science awareness with real-world applications and to conduct quantitative analysis to aid in scientific skill development. Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so simple. But this is rocket science, after all.

Recognized by the Sally Ride Foundation for their achievements in near-space exploration, the OTMS Radio and Technology Club and the Science Team Elite have the only successful ongoing non-college space program in the state of Mississippi. This team once held the world record in the field of telemetry reception, and their record now stands at second place.

“We have won grants from the Amateur Radio Relay League to put a radio station in the classroom to help show electronics technology, communication skills and robotics,” Bill Richardson says. Their station is an amateur radio one which is used to talk to others in 45 of the 50 U.S. states, Northern Ireland, Spain, Australia, St. Helena Island, Japan and so many more.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, these students are now preparing for a trip to space… or near-space, to be more exact. They plan to launch their third near-space balloon on April 13, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. With Bill Richardson as the Flight Coordinator and Bobby Robinson as the Science Director, Eagle3, a HALO (High Altitude Launched Platform), will rocket into the atmosphere.

The OTMS team has already sent two near-space balloons into the atmosphere, reaching altitudes greater than 90,000 feet. “These balloon launches give the students the chance to learn about the earth’s atmosphere like no other class,” says Richardson. The same project that these 12, 13 and 14-year-olds will enact with their instructors earned a man named Victor Hess a Nobel Peace Prize in 1936. Many of these high level tests have left PhD level scientists scratching their heads. Together, these clubs have captured very unusual high speed cosmic particles on film that could not be identified by NASA or any university.

Big plans for new innovations are also in the works. “We are currently working to send cricket-o-nauts to near space as well,” Bobby Robinson explains. Though their accomplishments are numerous, even greater things lie ahead for OTMS.

DCIM101GOPRO

How cool is THAT?

Summer missionaries honored at Mississippi College banquet

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Mississippi College is preparing global leaders and change agents, evidenced by students embarking on mission trips across America and the world. For instance, Hanna Finley will teach English, lead Bible studies and build relationships while sharing the gospel with people in South Korea this summer (above is Finley on a 2012 summer mission trip). Finley, an accounting major from Tupelo is among 14 undergraduates that attended a Baptist Student Union summer missions banquet on the campus last Friday. The dinner is an opportunity for faculty and staff to support and pray for student missionaries serving in North America or internationally.

An 18-year-old MC psychology major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jordan Berry is thrilled about her trip to Kissimmee near Disney World in Central Florida. She will serve a little over two months through Rock Ministries at a place called “Give Kids the World.”

It’s a resort for terminally ill children and their families. The families come to visit their kids and the visitors receiving donated free tickets to Disney World, Sea World and other attractions. Jordan and seven other interns from the South will serve the families, tackle cleaning duties and offer their prayers to benefit the resort village.

“I hope through this experience I cannot only further God’s kingdom through His children, but learn more about people as well as bless and be blessed by the kids,” Jordan said. “This is an answered prayer. I’m so excited to be joining this team.”

In future years, Berry wants to become a family counselor who serves their needs when a crisis occurs.

Heidi Cheatham, assistant director for the Baptist Student Union, said the dinner always offers an excellent chance for the Christian university’s student missionaries to be prayed for and encouraged by family and friends.

The mission trips often open the door to life-changing, unforgettable experiences. A trip last summer took MC student Lee McCarty to Slovenia in Central Europe to share his faith with youth in the Alps. In the Republic of Slovenia only 1 percent of the population knows Jesus Christ as their Lord.

For more information, contact the BSU’s Heidi Cheatham at 601.925.3398 or Brenda Holloway at 601.925.3238.

[Release and photo submitted by Mississippi College]