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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Last updated: 01/06/06