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Ocean Springs student gets honor of introducing second lady Biden

AP PHOTOIn this Nov. 24, 2009 file photo, Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, is shown during a State Arriva for India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
AP PHOTOIn this Nov. 24, 2009 file photo, Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, is shown during a State Arriva for India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the East Room of the White House in Washington. AP

An Ocean Springs High School student had the honor of introducing second lady Dr. Jill Biden to a Pensacola, Fla., school Friday.

Junior Eric Cleckner, other Ocean Springs' students, teachers and the school principal Vickie Tiblier participated in Dr. Jill Biden's support of "Joining Forces," a White House initiative aimed at providing additional educational support to children of service members and veterans groups.

Joining Forces has partnered with the National Math and Science Initiative, a government funded program to provide resources to both the teacher and student. It's College Readiness Program provides teachers and students the tools needed to go onto college or a career.

Biden on Friday spoke to students at Escambia High School in Pensacola about the program the school implemented.

Ocean Springs High School is one of the few Mississippi schools that utilizes the NMSI program, and the Biloxi and Gulfport school districts will start the program next fall.

The Second Lady noted children of service members often are forced to make frequent moves from state to state, making a consistent, quality education difficult. Cleckner said he can attest to that.

"I've been to five different schools. I've lived in North Carolina, Ohio, Florida and Mississippi," he said.

"It's hard to know where other students are at when you start somewhere new," he said.

That's where NIMSI comes in, he said.

NMSI President Gregg Fleisher said the program makes a difference in the lives of the students and the teachers.

"It's great to have Dr. Biden speak about what will happen with these schools. This is a comprehensive program, one that removes barriers that prevent students from maximizing their potential. The program provides extra training for teachers and allows every teacher the opportunity to receive an expert instructor to tutor them," Fleisher said.

On striking up a conversation with the Second Lady, Cleckner said he got a case of the nerves. "I sat right next to her before she spoke. I wanted to talk to her, but I got to say I was a little intimidated," he said.

He is undecided about whether he'll enter the military. But one thing is clear.

"I'm really interested in environmental studies. Every thing about it, finding ways to sustain the environment and protect it. That's what I want to do. But I'd like to join the Air Force as well," he said.

In partnership with NMSI, Ocean Springs High School increased its number of qualifying scores on AP exams in the 2013-14 academic year. The program helped the school achieve the greatest first-year improvement at any school in the history of NMSI's College Readiness Program. "In just one year, Ocean Springs increased qualifying exam scores from 18 to 195, accounting for 42 percent of the entire state of Mississippi's increase in qualifying math, science and English scores this year (2014)," according to a NMSI press release.

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