Education Notebook for South Mississippi

June 28, 2014 

Students honored at Explosion of Excellence

The Explosion of Excellence Scholarship Program celebrated its 24th year in honoring the top 10 percent of all Jackson County high school seniors. The event was held at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College's Gautier gymnasium, where 162 high school students were presented with scholarships.

Each student received a $250 book scholarship, and 24 $1,000 Founders' Scholarships were randomly drawn for the years that the program has been in place.

Two students received $5,000 Memorial Scholarships. The recipient of the $5,000 McDonald's Descher Organization Memorial Scholarship was Naomi Adrianna Sipp of Moss Point High School. The recipient of the $5,000 Bacot/McCarty Foundation Memorial Scholarship was Morgan Mullins of Ocean Springs High School.

The recipients of the 24 $1,000 Founders Scholarships, and the scholarship contributors: Spencer Massey (Wells Fargo); Savannah Sellers (Navigator Credit Union); Marcus Hamilton (Tammy Browder, in memory of Gene Clardy); Drew Ford (BP Pascagoula Gas Processing Plant); Edward Simpson Jr. (Roy Anderson Corp., a fund of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation); Cassidy Voelkel (Duchess Club Civic and Charity Organization); Ashley Winans (Wealth CAPS); Joshua Austin (David & Susan McCormick); Dylan Spencer (Singing River Electric Power Association); Katie Morgan (Rotary of Gautier); Lisa Fulkerson (Rotary of Gautier); Hunter Austin Johnson (Blossman Propane Gas, Appliance, and Service); Carlye Torjusen (Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association); Kenneth Holloway (Mississippi Export Railroad); Abigail Yount (Jerry Lee's Grocery); Taylor Blair (VT Halter Marine Inc.); Katelyn Brown (First Chemical Corp.); Alexis Rountree (BP Pascagoula Gas Processing Plant); Maureen Farmer (Bill Descher); Wesley Affolter (Mississippi Power Co.); Christopher Bui (Mike & Bettie Concannon); Aricelia Arcadia (Chevron Pascagoula Refinery); Lindsey Johnson (Ingalls Shipbuilding); and Olivia Todd (Keesler Federal Credit Union).

These scholarships are donated to encourage students to consider employment in Jackson County when their education is finished.

The guest speaker was state Rep. Jeramey Anderson, District 110. He is a graduate of Moss Point High School. He has an associate's degree in criminal justice from Pearl River Community College and is studying homeland security and public relations as a senior at Tulane University.

Tax-deductible contributions to the Explosion of Excellence Scholarship Fund are accepted by contacting the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce at 762-3391 or

Marmalich graduates from USA College of Medicine

Dustin Marmalich of Long Beach was among the 2014 College of Medicine students who graduated from the University of South Alabama, marking the 39th class to earn medical degrees from USA.

The day before, the 63 graduates participated in an honors convocation where they were "hooded" by an individual of their choice, signifying the awarding of a doctoral-level degree. Both ceremonies took place at the USA Mitchell Center.

Marmalich graduated from Long Beach High School and earned his bachelor of science degree in biomedical science from the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

He will complete his residency training in psychiatry at the University of South Alabama Hospitals in Mobile.

He is the son of Dale and Kim Marmalich of Long Beach.

Burnison on dean's list at Seaver College

Pepperdine University student Allison Burnison of Gulfport has been named to the Seaver College dean's list for the spring 2014 semester.

For dean's list honors, students must be in the upper 10 percent of their class and maintain a 3.5 or better GPA. This year Burnison is one of only 275 students to receive the honor.

Seaver College, in Malibu, Calif., is the undergraduate school for Pepperdine University, a Christian institution.

North Bay fifth-grader honored for letter

Fifth-grade Create student Addie Grace Pyron of North Bay Elementary in Biloxi attended a ceremony in May at the Mississippi Library Commission in Jackson to receive an award for winning second place in the Letters About Literature contest.

She was joined by other award winners from across the state and was asked to read her letter to the audience.

Hong, Stebly are STARS at D'Iberville High

James Hong has been named STAR Student in addition to being salutatorian of the class of 2014 of D'Iberville High School.

The STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition) program is sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council's M.B. Swayze Educational Foundation.

Beyond the Advanced Placement course load, Hong also has extensive participation in extracurricular activities such as being Junior Class president of Student Council. He plans to study engineering at the University of Alabama where he has been awarded the Presidential Scholarship and an engineering scholarship that will collectively cover all tuition costs.

He chose Terry Stebly as his STAR teacher.

Stebly has been teaching science at D'Iberville High School since 2004. In 2012, she was named Harrison County School District Teacher of the Year.

She graduated from the University of South Alabama with a bachelor's of science and from the University of Southern Mississippi with a master's in special education. She also has endorsements in elementary education, biology and AP biology.

Stebly teaches introduction to biology, biology I and AP biology. She is the sponsor of the Science Olympiad team and a member of the National Science Teacher Association.

Bennett earns doctorate of physical therapy

Jordan Bennett of D'Iberville earned a doctorate of physical therapy from Southwest Baptist University, graduating cum laude.

He received his undergraduate degree from Belhaven University.

He is a graduate of D'Iberville High School.

Favre receives University Medal at LSU

Gerald Favre III of Long Beach was one of 53 graduating seniors in LSU's spring 2014 class to receive the prestigious University Medal during a ceremony in May in the LSU Union Theater as part of the university's 283rd commencement exercises.

The University Medal is awarded to those undergraduates who finish with the highest grade point averages in each LSU graduating class.

The medalists were also recognized during the main commencement ceremony in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Favre, who majored in biological science, received a bachelor of science from the College of Science.

USM-Gulf Coast holds awards ceremony

The Student Government Association at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast hosted the 2014 Golden Eagle Pride Awards ceremony in recognition of outstanding students, faculty and organizations.

The event, held on the university's Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, also served as the inauguration for the president of the upcoming 2014-15 Gulf Coast Student Government Association.

LaQuita Gresham, outgoing president, presented the gavel to incoming president, Haley Whitehead. The director of the university's Gulf Coast Learning Commons, Jack Covarrubias, was recognized for serving as adviser to the group.

These Student Government Association awards were presented:

Mr. SGA: Corey Eggers of Biloxi

Ms. SGA: LaQuita Gresham of Gulfport

Best Collaborative Organization: The Legacy (Student Alumni Association)

Most Dedicated Student: Hayley Whitehead of Ocean Springs

Best Debater: Melanie McLeod of Long Beach

Most Spirited: Crystal Stinson of Biloxi

Eagle Attendance: Catherine Chai of Ocean Springs

Most Helpful Faculty/Staff Member: Casey Maugh, assistant professor in the College of Arts and Letters

Most Likely to be President of the United States: LaQuita Gresham of Gulfport

Most Likely to be a Congressional Leader: Shea Dobson of Ocean Springs

Most Entertaining: Corey Eggers of Biloxi

Best Organizational Leadership: Eco-Eagles' Heather Nicholson of Ocean Springs

Presidential Awards: Kelly Roberts of Gulfport, Melanie McLeod of Long Beach, Alice Moss of Biloxi, Claudia Kapusinski of Diamondhead and Gulf Coast Library

Special Recognition for Service to the Student Body: Tom Lansford, academic dean for Southern Miss Gulf Coast

Caliva, Cranford are OLA STARs

Caroline Caliva has been named as a STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition) Student for the 2013-14 school year by the Mississippi Economic Council's M.B. Swayze Educational Foundation, sponsor of the STAR program.

The senior at Our Lady Academy in Bay St. Louis was honored during the annual Education Celebration in April at the Jackson Convention Center in Jackson.

Caliva earned this recognition of STAR Student by having the highest ACT score of this year's senior class recorded by December.

She is a member of the National Honor Society, Campus Ministry and Spanish Honor Society. She is on the "A" honor roll and was recognized during Academic Awareness Week for Fine Arts. She placed in the top 10 percent in biology at the Math and Science Competition at Millsaps College in Jackson. Caliva's artistic talents are displayed around OLA campus by various paintings and photographs.

She is the daughter of Kevin and Angie Caliva of Diamondhead, She plans to attend Mississippi State University.

Each STAR Student is asked to designate a STAR Teacher, the teacher who has made the greatest contribution to the student's scholastic achievement.

Caliva designated Julie Cranford of Bay St. Louis as STAR Teacher. Cranford is the head of the Science Department and an instructor at Our Lady Academy. She has been teaching for 29 years and has been named STAR Teacher three previous times: in 2002, 2007 and 2010.

A 1977 graduate of Our Lady Academy, Cranford earned two degrees at the University of Southern Mississippi, a bachelor's in biology and a master's in science education.

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