High-achieving students were honored during the PACES annual banquet held at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba on Thursday night.
High-achieving students were honored during the PACES annual banquet held at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba on Thursday night.
By Austin Bishop

Kemper County Messenger

Sometimes the success that PACES has enjoyed in its young life leaves project coordinator Bernard Hulin shaking his head.
   "I's amazing what a little encouragement and direction has helped this young people achieve," Hulin said. "They have work hard and have come to understand that they can be successful."

That success was on full display last Thursday night on the campus of East Mississippi Community College as the PACES annual awards banquet was held.

Hulin said one of the most telling figures was that in 2010 only four students were accepted as early admissions students to four-year schools. This year 22 students achieved that honor.

"We are able to make contact with the students at a younger and younger age and help point them in the right direction," Hulin said. "It has made a difference."

Trenton Steele, a 2012 graduate of Kemper County High School and a former PACES member was the guest speaker at Thursday night's meeting and shared how the project had impacted his life.

"It opened our eyes to just what we are exposed to in our area and that we are able to do more," he said. He also pointed out that PACES was a big help, but in the end it was up to the individual student to achieve. "It is up to you," he said. "If you don't do it, you don't get it."

Steele took advantage of several educational opportunities provided by PACES and is now employed at Mississippi Power Company's Plant Ratcliffe. In an effort to give back, he is currently funding scholarships to deserving scholars at both KCHS and Kemper Academy.

"He's a young man, but he's already giving back," said Dre. Jevorious Prince, emcee for the program and also a former PACES student. "That's what it takes to uplift a community like ours."

The top three awardees at Thursday night's program were Brandon Hooks, Ashely Peeples and Apricota Clayton. Hooks recorded a 23 on his ACT to take the PACES Scholar aware, while Peeples earned the community service award with 78 hours and Clayton had a school best 3.87 GPA.

Others honored during the banquet are as follows:

— 3.25 GPA or Higher: Kalani McCoy, Markkayla williams, Harieria McCoy, Jordan Bryant, Tiaria Johnigan, LaTonya Rush, LaDasha Grace, Ke'Lexis Wilkins, Andrea Mumphard, Brianna Webb,Jada Jackson, Serinia Grey, Tylanda Tisdale, Jayla Gibbs, Mercedez Jackson, Johnathan Pollock, Benquisha Winston, Braylonn Clark, NeKeida Renher, Brandon Hooks, Tamra Moore and Apricota Clayton.

— 18 ACT or Better: Tylanda Tisdale, Mercedez Jackson, Jayla Gibbs, Gus Nave, Braylonn Clark, Jordan Bryant, Jarius Clayton, Kiandrea Cherry, KeLexis Wilkins, Johnathan Pollock, Tamra Moore, Apricota Clayton, and Brandon Hooks.

— Early Acceptance Letters from 4-year colleges: Apricota Clayton, Ashley Peeples, Brandon Hooks, Braylonn Clark, Brequiesha Winston, Breanna Odom, Diamond Rush, Jarius Clayton, Gus Nave, Harkieriea McCoy, Jayla Gibbs, Jordan Bryant, Katricia Steele, KeLexis Wilkins, Malik Jones, Mel'Shawn Rush, NeKeida Rencher, Serinia Gray, Tamra Moore, Tylanda Tisdale, Tybreshia Naylor, and Wadarius Perry.

The top three community service wards went to Ashley Peeples (78 hours), Jada Little (58 hours) and Tyrbreisha Naylor (52 hours).

Johnathan Pollock, Kenkeida Rencher and Britttany Steeler was also honored for their commitment to the United States Air Force.