Roses and thorns 3-15-09




A rose to historic Mississippi University for Women for 125 years as an institution. Founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women, the school Thursday celebrated its 125th birthday. 


Noteworthy students to walk the halls of the W are Pulitzer Prize winning author Eudora Welty, Elizabeth Hazen, a scientist who co-discovered one of the world''s leading antifungal medications, Lenore Prather, the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice in Mississippi and Valerie Jaudon, the only Mississippi woman artist featured in H.H. Arnason''s History of Modern Art. 


Originally called the Industrial Institute and College, the W became Mississippi State College for Women in 1920 and adopted its current name in 1974. The school has been admitting men since 1982 and currently is searching for a new name. 


Thus far, the choices have been narrowed to Reneau University, Welty-Reneau University and Waverley University. 




A rose to Dr. Del Phillips for offering yet another innovative and bold alternative to the education status quo, a "year-round" school for Columbus city schools. 


While the name is a little deceptive -- school would be in session for about 11 months with the entire month of July off -- the proposed new schedule will offer struggling students intense remediation and other students enrichment programs geared toward their school''s magnet theme. 


Too often, teachers are left to find creative ways to continue teaching curriculum while playing catch-up with those students falling behind and still trying to challenge those students who''ve mastered the concepts. If approved, the new calendar would mean more time for one-on-one instruction with students who need extra help. It also would mean students who are up to par can be stimulated educationally in other ways, while their peers get much-needed remediation. 


Studies show students have a harder time retaining knowledge after a near 2 1/2 month summer break. And parents of school-age children often pay for summer tutoring and/or day care programs during the summer months. 


As our society evolves, educators must find ways to evolve with it, and this is one way our education system can adjust to the needs of our children. 


We no longer need a school schedule based on spring planting and summer cultivating. 


We applaud the indefatigable Phillips for his unceasing efforts to improve education for our children. 




A bouquet of roses offered to the recently deceased bluesman Willie E. King would not do the man, the musician, the community activist proper justice. 


Still, we offer it, in honor of his life and legacy. 


King touched the hearts of many with his music, his programs and his manner of life. This gracious man greeted strangers and friends alike with a smile and kind words. 


While his career was global in scope, King was humble, never straying far from his Black Prairie roots. 


And who else can compel an entire gym full of elementary school students to along to Big Joe Williams'' "Baby, Please Don''t Go" while teaching about life on a plantation and spreading a message of good morals and self esteem?



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