The best and worst of South Mississippi were on display this past week.
When Lyle Smith Jr. saw an SUV crash into a bayou Saturday, he could have shrugged and driven on to his destination.
He didn’t. He stopped and jumped into the frigid waters of Bayou LaCroix from the Mississippi 603 bridge.
With his help, the driver was rescued and taken to the hospital. She survived.
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Without Smith’s quick thinking, the outcome could have been much worse. The woman’s vehicle sank. She could have easily been trapped inside.
Then there was the case of the Picayune high school that handed out worthless diplomas to last year’s graduates.
Students and parents thought they were getting a good deal. All they have to show for it is a worthless piece of paper, some empty promises and an apology.
At least one student thought he’d be getting a scholarship. Now, he’s in GED classes, which dim his chances of getting financial aid that’s based on his academic record.
A younger student at the school tested below average after receiving A’s and B’s at Christian Academy of Picayune.
School administrator Candice Downey said she doesn’t know why she forged the diplomas and said it wasn’t her decision. She needs to come clean on that part of her story.
If there’s another person who thinks it’s OK to hand out fraudulent diplomas, the public deserves to know.
Parents need to be more vigilant, as well.
The Federal Trade Commission notes in the internet age, the education landscape is littered with worthless paper. The FTC says parents should be wary of places that offer diplomas without classes — yes, it felt it was necessary to say that — or schools that offer the chance to earn a diploma at home ASAP or schools that claim to be affiliated with the federal government, which doesn’t regulate high school diplomas.
Unfortunately, Downey’s actions leave a cloud over private schools.
What’s a parent to do?
The place to start is with the state Department of Education, which lists all accredited private schools. Parents should also talk to others parents.
As for the rest of us, we should endeavor to be more like Smith and less like Downey.
The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.