Gift to Marion Co. schools will mean higher education in reach for more

Marion County students receive hughe financial lift
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 9:07 PM CST
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MARION COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - Many families know what it means to make very dollar stretch.

With that in mind, many high school students are forced to think twice about the cost of receiving a higher education.

““I was depending on a scholarship to go so that I wouldn’t have to put that burden on my parents,” West Marion High School junior Daleigh Crozier.

Now, the financial burden of college may not be a worry for some parents in the Marion County School District.

The Lost Horse Foundation, founded by Mackenzie Scott, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, gifted the school district with a $3.5 million grant.

The Marion County School District didn’t hesitate to make sure the money would go toward its students’ futures.

The district partnered with the Pine Belt Foundation to create a scholarship fund that will send from 50 to 100 students to Pearl River Community College.

For free.

“Financial obstacles are the biggest barriers in higher educational achievement,” PRCC President Adam Breerwood. “But programs like this will help alleviate those challenges. And I believe that it’s going to create enormous opportunity in our surrounding communities.”

Marion County Superintendent Carl Michael Day said the district kept the information on the grant possibilities a secret for months as the school district completed the process for becoming a recipient.

Friday’s announcement came as a surprise for both faculty and students.

“This is a huge open door,” West Marion junior Jacob Buffalo said. “I mean people have different circumstances. They just have a different reality. So, this opens the door for almost anybody.

“This is a huge step in the right direction. This is going to help the economy and the community. It’s just going to be a really big deal.”

Friday’s developments had more than one student rethinking future plans

“I really was just depending on my mom and dad,” East Marion senior John Johnson said. “I was going to help them and try to get a job. I’m just excited right now.”

As for the superintendent, Scott’s largesse really hit home.

Day grew up in the area and after graduating from the Marion County School District, he attended PRCC where he lost his scholarship and had to work his way through school.

“I’m going to try not to cry, but it’s personal for me because I had to work at McDonald’s for five years, saving money to be able to go back to college,” Day said. “If you have a desire to want to better your current circumstances and situations, this is at your fingertips.”

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