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franklin county times

MPS Character Education wins national award

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
July 3, 2003
If you don't know the meaning of character, just look up to the billboards in the Meridian area that depict a different character trait each month.
The Meridian Public Schools Character Education's billboards have won a national Promising Practices award and will be recognized in "2003 National Schools of Character," a book to be released later this year.
The billboards on Eighth Street and Highway 39 demonstrate each month's character trait. There are nine: honesty, responsibility, self-discipline, citizenship, respect, compassion, friendship, perseverance and courage.
Cindy Burt, program director, said she is thrilled about winning.
Winners will be honored Oct. 17 during a luncheon in Arlington, Va.
Burt said many people were involved in making the billboards possible. Dana Covert, a local photographer, took the pictures for the billboards and Mike Cumberland at Lamar Advertising donated the billboard space. Diane Crawford, a Meridian public schools employee, helped with layout and idea development.
The Character Education program began in 2001 with a $1 million federal grant to Meridian. The program is administered by the Meridian Public School District and the Mississippi State Department of Education.
The three-year grant will expire at the end of next year but Burt believes the program can survive without additional funding.
The classroom program is important, Burt said, because businesses want workers with good character.
Burt said she thinks it is a good idea to teach character in school because sometimes those qualities are overlooked.