Mississippi College

Mississippi Private High School Leaders Network at MC

January 18, 2008

Lead, follow, or get out of the way! That was the message printed on programs welcoming hundreds of high school leaders visiting Mississippi College today.

In this case, more than 500 members of the Mississippi Private School Association Student Council converged on the Clinton campus for their annual convention. They're at MC to learn how to be more effective leaders. Students are here from University Christian School in Flowood, Indianola Academy, Madison Ridgeland Academy, Pillow Academy, Hillcrest Christian School, the DeSoto School, Pillow Academy and dozens of others.

They heard from a parade of speakers, listened to student candidates for office for the 2008-2009 academic year, and had time to fellowship over lunch at the MC cafeteria.

"This is a good way to network and see what's doing for the next school year," said Tyler Wilks, 18, a senior at Columbia Academy. "I'm trying to learn to lead kids at school," said Wilks, a resident of the south Mississippi community of Bunker Hill. He's got plans to attend Pearl River Community College next fall.

"This will be good for me next year when I'm a senior," said Columbia Academy junior Tiffany Nace, 16, as students exited from their morning session at Swor Auditorium.

During sessions at MC's 800-seat auditorium in Nelson Hall they hear Choctaws head football coach Norman Joseph deliver a motivational speech on leadership. They also heard from MC administrators like Jim Turcotte, the vice president of enrollment management and student affairs and Kelly Wheat, leader of the Baptist Student Union.

"These students are talented and creative," Turcotte said. "We are pleased to host them for this event where they can learn more about themselves and service to others."

For many students, the convention at MC represents a key date on their calendar as far as training is concerned. About 350 to 500 students with the group will be returning April 1 for an honors society program on the Clinton campus, said Margaret Rogers, a sponsor with the Pearl-based MPSA. Representatives from 50 private schools attended the meetings.

During his remarks, Joseph urged the students to "expect the best from your organization," as leaders, but also said they should be patient and understanding. "Pull, don't push," he advised the high school students. The Choctaws head football coach also urged the students to stay focused on their faith and turn to God for guidance. "My prayer for you is God bless you in your journey as a leader."

This is the first time the MPSA led by executive director David Derrick has held its student council convention on the Mississippi College campus, said David Pendergrast, the organization's director of instruction. In recent years, the group has convened for meetings at hotels in Jackson.

For more information on the group, call 601-932-2007.

PHOTO: Columbia Academy students (left-right): Tiffany Nace, junior; Tyler Wilks, senior; Kaitlyn DuBose, senior

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