Pascagoula School District spotlighted for its teen pregnancy program

By Patrice Clark- bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A Pascagoula effort to keep teen moms in school is getting statewide attention. A film crew from Mississippi Kids Count was at Pascagoula High Thursday.

The district designed the program to give teenage parents the help and incentive they need to continue their education at a time when it might seem easier just to dropout. Jamonica Holloway is 16 years old and says being a teen mom is no joke.

"I barely get sleep because she stays up every night," Holloway said about her new baby girl.

Sophmore Cathy Edwards and senior Whitney Reaux echo Holloway's same story.

"I use to go to football games, after school activities. Now, I get up change pampers and fix cups," Reaux said about teen motherhood.

"I love him (her son) to death, but God knows I would have waited if I would have known it was going to be so difficult," Edwards said.

The three single moms say the Pascagoula school district's teen pregnancy program has been a helping hand and support during this rough time. They receive parenting tips, baby supplies and encouragement to get their diploma.

The district began the teen pregnancy program three years ago. School officials nominated it to the Mississippi Kids Count Program, which tracks information about the health, safety and education of kids across the state. The program is now being featured in a success story video.

"The teen parent program is being honored as one of the success stories that is going to be honored at the Kids Count summit coming up in January," Film producer Brian Utely said.

Although Mississippi leads the nation in teen pregnancy, director Connie Joe Williams believes the program was picked because the district didn't let a statistic stop them from promoting academic achievement.

"Last year, of the 61 girls we had, 27 were seniors, and they graduated. They graduated with academic honors," Williams said. "We are tickled that the girls worked so hard to make sure they got the diploma they needed, so they could provide for their children."

The teen pregnancy program is part of the Pascagoula School District's Destination Graduation Program. The program has also won the 2009 National Dropout Prevention Center's Crystal Star Award of Excellence.

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