By Gail HM Brown, Ph.D.,
Durant Missionary Baptist Church (DMBC) in Durant, Mississippi, recently held its 34th year of countywide bachelor’s services to encourage and pray for the graduates of Holmes County Central High School’s class of 2022. .
“This class has struggled for the past two years,” pastor and lecturer Dr. Nathaniel Christian said, referring to their enrollment at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In retrospect, COVID-19 hit while this class and others were on spring break in mid-March 2020. School closures occurred across the state. Governor Tate Reeves issued a “Shelter in Place” executive order, effective April 3. It then replaced it with a “Safer at Home” on May 22, 2020, to which Holmes County was added as the eighth hotpot for COVID-19.
School administrators, students, and parents pivoted and tried to adapt to a virtual learning platform in a rural county where internet connectivity was already an issue. School buses would still operate, but to deliver district-prepared, nutritional meals to students at home. HCCSD is a 100% free and discounted neighborhood
More than a year later, on August 5, 2021, the Class of 2022 and other students witnessed the state takeover of their school district, approved and proclaimed by Governor Reeves after a recommendation from the August 3, 2021 of the Council of State. education.
Despite the challenges, Pastor Christian said, “The class is a blessing in itself. I think we should all stand up and give God a hand. As the song says, “many didn’t survive, but I’m so glad to be one of those who did.” He urged, “Do not forsake your source of strength”, using Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“Things change quickly… You are at the forefront of change; you need to be focused; Hold on to the source of your strength and don’t hide your Bibles. he advised.
The church was filled with parents, educators, outsiders and other supporters to support the graduates.
Mississippian-born prophetess Gwendolyn P. Davis of Dayton, Ohio was in town to support her niece, Curaya Washington. “I was there for his pre-kindergarten graduation when his great-grandparents were still there, now, wow, I’m there for his high school graduation. That means a lot,” Davis said who said that his niece had had a “great senior year”.
Parent Antwan Clark commented: “My wife and I were thrilled when we found out Breanna was No. 4 in her class. We know she’s very smart and it’s great to see that her hard work and dedication has paid off,” he said.
During the service, students received awards and scholarships in addition to those many received at a previous class event.
“My classmates, our potential is limitless,” said Lillian Lewis, valedictorian and recipient of multiple scholarships and awards.
The salutatorian is Zanashia Hawkins. Ajah Webster is No. 3 in his class.
Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Wilson was invited by the church to offer words of encouragement.
“Grads, right now I’m going to offer you some words of wisdom, and my words will be captured under the theme: Don’t Eat the Marshmallow!” began Wilson. “First, I need you to turn to your classmate on your left and say, ‘Don’t eat the marshmallow. Now turn to your classmate on your right and say, “I said, ‘Don’t eat the marshmallow. Now what does all this mean?
“In the 1960s, a researcher conducted a study with 4 and 5 year old children. He led everyone into a room, and on a table in front of them he placed a marshmallow. He told everyone, “You can have a marshmallow now or if you can wait 20 minutes while I run an errand, when I come back, you might have two marshmallows.”
“Some kids jumped up and ate the marshmallow as soon as the researcher left the room. Others were squirming and bouncing and scampering in their chairs and trying to hold on, but finally, within five minutes, they too were gobbling up the marshmallow. And finally, some of the children waited and received a double reward. This popular study became known as The Marshmallow Experiment.
“The researcher tracked the children’s progress and later found that those who were willing to delay gratification and waited for the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, were more motivated, more disciplined, and less easily frustrated than students who ate first.
“Amazingly, later in life, the researcher followed some of the children for over 40 years, and again and again, the children who patiently waited for the second marshmallow succeeded, no matter what ability they measured.”
After sharing the Marshmallow experience, Wilson concluded, “If you want to be awesome, it won’t happen overnight. My warning to you in everything you do in life is to work hard, don’t take the easy road. Remember, the Bible says, “The race is not given to the quick, nor the battle to the strong, but to those who endure to the end.” Congratulations, young people for a job well done.
“The resilient 194-member class of 2022 has racked up over $450,000 in scholarships,” said HCCHS Principal Antwayn Patrick.
He also paid tribute to three members of the Jaguars 5-A Men’s Basketball Champion who were among the graduates.