PCA senior sponsors revel in student success

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Porter’s Chapel Academy’s class of 2016 walked across the stage Saturday and received their diplomas, but they couldn’t have done it without the help of two special teachers.

English teacher Cheryl Israel Grant and math teacher Frances Warren serve as senior sponsors, helping the students along the way their final year of high school.

Grant said coming from a small school often means wearing a lot of different hats. That’s no different when it comes to being senior sponsor.

“We advise, we answer questions, dry tears and listen to complaints,” she said.

Warren said she explains the senior privileges, including the opportunity to check out and leave during study periods and lunch and exemption from semester exams.

“During the year they’ll come in and ask me questions about their service hours,” she said. “They’re required to complete 40 hours. They’ll ask what counts and what they can do.”

Warren said each class wants to know if they’re the favorite, but added it’s not that simple.

“Every class is different,” she said. “Every class has their own little quirks that make them different. You get attached to them; it’s like a family.”

Grant said this class has 22 graduates.

“It’s a much more personal thing,” she said. “I taught at Warren Central for a long time, and every day I would see students in the hallway I didn’t know. It’s like losing 22 children you’ve nurtured since the ninth grade. You’ve loved them, you’ve fussed at them, you’ve celebrated with them, and it’s just a much more personal level.”

Grant said she’ll remember this class as a team.

“The do so much together, and they care about each other,” she said. “In this class, you don’t have cliques, and that is amazing to me. That’s amazing to me. That’s not to say they don’t have their arguments and their fights, they do, but when it’s all said and done, they come together.”

Grant said being at a Christian school, she and the students pray together every morning and she encourages them to initiate prayer.

“They knew what was going on in each others’ lives, and they included that when they prayed each morning,” she said.

Warren said she’s been impressed with how much this year’s seniors have matured.

“They have really grown up this year,” she said. “There’s kids that last year we weren’t real sure if they were going to make it through some classes, but they studied, and they did their work, and they got it all done.”

Warren said she wants her students to believe in themselves.

“I always tell them they can succeed in anything if they put their mind to it,” she said. “You can succeed if you put your mind to it.”

Grant added the students should not let today stand in the way of tomorrow.

“They are graduating, and that is a wonderful, wonderful accomplishment, but it is a beginning. It’s not an end,” she said. “There’s so much more than Vicksburg and this school.”

Editor’s note: This story is the fourth in a series of four, publishing each Tuesday leading up the local high schools’ graduations. The stories are meant to highlight the schools’ senior sponsors, often unsung heroes, who help students bridge the gap to adulthood.