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St. Aloysius senior retreat focuses on local church affected by 2019 flooding

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Mount Ararat Baptist Church will receive the energy of St. Aloysius seniors to restore it after flood damage.

St. Aloysius students have dedicated their annual senior retreat to provide aid and assistance to a local Eagle Lake church affected by floodwaters.

In years past, St. Al seniors have done numerous projects around Mississippi and the nation, but this year they have chosen to help neighbors in their backyard. Forty-eight seniors will offer their helping hands to Mount Ararat Baptist Church to recover from the 2019 Backwater Flood.

Leading the charge of this retreat is Joan Thornton, an educator at St. Aloysius.

“The senior retreat this year is focused on being formed and molded by the master potter, Jeremiah. We will gather to discover and reaffirm our blessing that God is always molding us into who we are called to be,” Thornton said.

“We will be redoing bathrooms, laying floors in the pastor and sectary’s office, re-siding and painting the outside, as well as landscaping,” she said of the work the seniors will be doing.

The site was chosen by St. Aloysius and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, or UMCOR.

“We took the St. Al retreat committee to multiple sites, like homes and churches,” said Patricia Montague, UMCOR disaster case manager. “They felt Mount Ararat would be the best location for the students to display their talents and offer the best experience.”

The weekend-long retreat begins Friday with remarks from community leaders and first responders regarding the disaster, case management of those affected and the recovery process. Two speakers the students will hear from will be Emergency Management Director John Elfer and United Way Executive Director Michele Connelly.

Elfer and his team are at the forefront of every natural and manmade disaster in the Warren County area. He has made it his business to educate these students and residents of Warren County on the importance of remaining safe during disasters.

Connelly’s heart is invested in this project as she was the principal at St. Aloysius for nine years. In addition, the United Way served as the fiscal agent for UMCOR and Warren County long-term recovery funds. Together with UMCOR, it was their responsibility to case manage clients affected by the flood and fill the gaps left by state and federal aid.

“It is a true honor to collaborate with UMCOR and St. Aloysius,” Connelly said. “Serving as former principal and being raised Methodist, I feel this project is the foundation of who I am. The service these students will be providing will bring a community together in a holy place that was taken away from them for so long. Seeing the members come back to the church will be an amazing thing to witness.”

It is St. Aloysius’ mission to prepare its students to be servant leaders through academic excellence, authentic faith formation and student life opportunities. St. Aloysius’ senior retreats offer service learning activities that foster a spirit of volunteering and encourage students to remain active in the community after graduation.

The South Delta has received hours of volunteer response from surrounding states and various organizations. Recently, Crawford Street United Methodist Church welcomed a large group of volunteers from Northwood Presbyterian Church out of Texarkana, Texas, to assist with many affected homes.

Education

Vicksburg’s Karen Gamble teaches integrity along with communication

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Karen Gamble (photo courtesy HInds CC)

Karen Gamble hasn’t lost sight of what has produced results for her students and for the workforce for generations.

“I teach communication classes – public speaking, interpersonal communication and business communication,” Gamble said. “In all three cases, students are afraid to communicate. I grade like college, because that’s what it is here. Communication is a scary, scary challenge for these students, particularly in this day and age when they’re all about their technology – their computers, their cellphones, their videos. Then, they have to stand up and present something face-to-face that’s on a piece of paper. They have trouble with that.

“They’re not any less smart than students 20 years ago, but their skillset is different. But, in my class, they have to participate in class and give examples of concepts we’re studying. But, when they finally do it and get a decent grade, there’s nothing like it for me when that light turns on for them. Their reaction is a bit like, ‘Mama, look what I was able to do!’”

Gamble was managing editor of The Vicksburg Post for 23 years and an adjunct instructor on the Vicksburg-Warren Campus until 2013, when she began teaching at Hinds full time.

The kinds of examples she uses to direct class discussion is pulled not just from her own experiences, but from the workforce as a whole.

“In my business communication class, we had talked about integrity and what it is,” she said. “The point we came to is that integrity is typified by the person who puts the grocery buggy back in the stall at the store. Nobody will come after you if you don’t put your buggy back. But integrity is the person who puts it back knowing full well it could hurt someone or get in somebody’s way if they don’t. And the reason they’re putting it back is because it’s the right thing to do.

“One of my students came back to me a week or two after we had that discussion. ‘Miss Gamble, Miss, Gamble,’” she said. ‘I got offered a job where I just interviewed!’ The student told me she was asked straight-up, ‘What’s the best characteristics you can bring to the table if we hire you?’ She told me she said, ‘I have integrity, and I can embrace the challenge.’”

Confident self-presentation is paramount to landing any job opportunity, Gamble said.

“Business people and professional people of all walks of life want professional candidates for their jobs,” she said. “They want people who can communicate. One of the top requirements before someone is hired is that they’re able to communicate. Communication covers writing, speaking, presenting oneself, everything. Our students know this is their community. It’s also my community, so I try to help them do the best they can in our community.”

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Mississippi native elected as Harvard student body president

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(photo courtesy Noah Harris)

A Mississippi high school graduate has been elected as Harvard University’s student body president.

Noah Harris, a 2018 graduate of Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is the first African American to serve in the role at prestigious Harvard University in Massachusetts.

“I’m really grateful that the student body is entrusting me with such a historic and unprecedented moment,” Harris told WDAM. “To make the right moves and to really bring their voices to the forefront. I just never expected that I would be in a position to run for this.”

Harris is a junior and a political science major at Harvard. He served as treasurer on the finance committee in his first two years. His vice president and running mate is neuroscience major Jenny Gan. Both plan on making a difference at the university.

Harris and Gan will be sworn in Dec. 6.

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Education

Corey Wilson is Warren Central’s Teacher of the Year

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Warren Central's Principal Eric Green, left, presents teacher and coach Corey Wilson Sr. with a basket of goodies. (photo courtesy WCHS)

Warren Central High School teacher and football coach Corey Wilson Sr. has won the WCHS Teacher of the Year award for the 2020-2021 school year.

Wilson has been teaching at Warren Central for 19 years and has helped educate thousands of students over the years. He teaches introduction to architecture construction mechatronics and engineering.

Wilson is also a football coach for the school and has helped plenty of young athletes gain athletic scholarships. He is well respected by his students, colleagues and the Vicksburg community.

“A well deserved award for a guy that goes beyond the limit. Proud to be mentored and work with him. Great coach,” said fellow teacher and coach Ced Jackson in a text message.

Wilson will help lead the Vikings football team Friday as they travel to face Tupelo High School.

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