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Moss Point city and school leaders challenge alumni association

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 6:45 PM CDT
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MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s not just Friday night football that has Moss Point alumni excited for the 2021 homecoming weekend, but it’s also new ideas for changes in the city’s school district.

Recent and older graduates filled the city hall board room Friday morning for a brunch with Mayor Billy Knight. It was a chance for the mayor to continue his rebranding efforts and show alumni from out of town what the city has to offer now.

“Let us be proud of who we are because of what our city looks like, how we conduct ourselves,” Knight said.

School district leaders joined the mayor at the podium, explaining to the crowd how they are using COVID-19 relief funds to update LED lighting and A/C units in many of the older facilities across the district.

They also said funds will be used to pay for counseling sessions for staff, a district psychiatrist, college experiences and even a COVID-19 vaccine incentive totaling $1,500 for district employees.

“We spent an incredible amount of money or its in the plan to spend money over the next three to four years to help improve the emotional well-being of our teachers and our students and our staff,” Superintendent Dr. Shannon Vincent said.

While alumni took time to mingle and learn more about their alma mater, city and school officials also detailed how the former Tigers can help the school district they grew up in.

“Our buildings are old. They are talking about getting air conditioners up to date, filtration correct. They’re talking about changing lighting. Every city on this coast got a brand new high school except Moss Point,” Knight said.

While the district does have a plan in place to update their buildings over the year, Knight proposed that alumni come together to raise $20-$25 million over a ten-year period to help build a new high school.

Alumni like Vanessa Gibson were optimistic about the plan, especially if the alumni association expands into a national group, reaching out to former Tigers from all around the U.S.

“I thought it was pretty forward-thinking,” Gibson said. “I never gave any thought to the idea that ‘Oh my gosh, I wonder if we can actually raise that kind of money.’ But when you start talking about nationally where we are, all over the country and maybe even outside of the country, that’s a possibility. You know why not try? You might be surprised at we are able to accomplish.”

The mayor and school leaders also talked about holding an event to have them share their successes post-high school with current Moss Point students, giving them role models that have spent time in their shoes.

Former Tigers see it not only as an investment in their community but also a way to give the next generation the same tools they had as students.

“I’m looking at some of the grandchildren of some of my classmates right now and it’s important that they get what I got out of this community - a sense of belonging, pride, knowing that people actually care about you,” Gibson said.

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