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Bounds encouraged by positive attitude of coast students, teachers after storm

Date Dec. 19, 2005   
Contact David Tisdale (601) 266-4499


HATTIESBURG – More than three months after Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast, State Superintendent Dr. Hank Bounds says he continues to be heartened by the attitude of the students and teachers there who have pressed on with the school year, despite having had their lives turned upside down.


Approximately 10,000 students on the coast have been displaced, and more than 20,000 lost their homes. Thousands of teachers, Bounds said, are also displaced.


Bounds pointed to those examples of character and overcoming adversity during his commencement address during two graduation ceremonies Saturday at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Reed Green Coliseum. Approximately 1,200 students were scheduled to receive their diplomas at the conclusion of the fall 2005 semester.


“I want them (graduates) to know that what they do every day, the decisions they make and the actions they take, those things determine the kind of life we all lead,” said Bounds, a Southern Miss graduate from the Brooklyn community, who previously served as superintendent of the Pascagoula School District. He also urged the graduates to follow their passion and make a positive difference in their communities.


Bounds said the situation on the coast continues to improve. About 600 portable units have been put in place at various school districts to provide temporary space while repairs are made to primary school structures that are salvageable.


“In the midst of all the chaos, everyone has been positive,” he said. “I believe the teachers there are doing a great job, and the students are focused, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure this disaster doesn’t have a long-term negative impact on our children’s education.”


Southern Miss Student Government Association President Jonathan Krebs of Hattiesburg said he’s been impressed with his fellow students at Southern Miss, especially those who have been directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina. “I think the students who endured terrible hardships because of the storm, but yet who continued on through the semester to get their education, have exemplified strong character,” he said.

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