Fun, education, encouragement


Seniors at Kemper County High School took part in a PACES kick-off rally on Friday morning, learning what the student support group has to offer. 

PACES, which stands for Parents and Community Equals Educational Success, is under the direction of Bernard “Joe” Hulin and has been in operation for 12 years. Among the activities set for PACES members this year are: college campus visits; business and industry education visits; community support activities; career mentoring; and incentive programs. 

There are strict guidelines that must be met to be a member of PACES and each of the seniors received a packet that detailed the eligibility and selection criteria and also included a commitment form. 

The East Mississippi Community College cheerleaders had a presence at the event, performing a cheer specifically created for the PACES kick-off. They also worked with the seniors on a team-building expertise at the conclusion of the kick-off rally. 

After opening remarks by Bernard Hulin and an introduction of the guest speaker by Loretta Hulin, 1st Lt. Roderick Patterson, who himself attended a PACES kick-off rally as a KCHS senior nine years ago, gave the students in attendance some words of encouragement. 

Among the things he stressed in his brief, but effective speech were: 

— Dream and think big and be okay with change;  

— Always seek out mentorship guidance from someone who has something you want or has been where you want to go; 

— Hone in on the resources you have before you, such as school leaders and community leaders; 

— Understand that education is the key to freedom (the more you know, the further you can go); 

— Have safe fun. 

“Once upon a time I was a member of PACES, sitting where you are,” Patterson said. “I didn’t know what the world had to offer or how far I would go. But you know, I am back here now because PACES showed me the way and now I am here to show you.” 

He encouraged each of the seniors to take full advantage of PACES and to be active in the classroom, organizations, and clubs, developing leadership skills along the way. 

Patterson is currently serving as the assistant executive officer of the deputy chief of staff for G3 HQ Army Material Command in the Mississippi National Guard. 

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