A dedicated few set our community on a new path nine years ago

Published 10:00 am Monday, March 9, 2020

You couldn’t blame Bob Morrison and Brother Blackburn for looking like proud parents Friday afternoon. You couldn’t blame them for taking a moment to sit back and enjoy what they were watching with a sense of pride.

Not that either of them would boast, but they were two of the people who helped kick start Leader In Me in the Vicksburg Warren School District and had every right to soak up every moment as River City Early College High School became one of the first Leader In Me high schools in the world to achieve Lighthouse School status.

Nearly nine years ago Blackburn and Morrison, along with others, helped spearhead the campaign to raise the money and commitments to fund the installation of the Leader In Me program in two elementary schools in the district.

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FranklinCovey’s Leader In Me program is based on Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and is a framework, officials with the district said, that helps schools achieve results by influencing behaviors and paradigms.

According to FranklinCovey, more than 300 schools — of the nearly 4,000 schools around the country that have incorporated the Leader In Me program — have earned Lighthouse status. Friday’s announcement was the first time high schools have been certified as Lighthouse Schools.

River City Early College and another high school in Oklahoma were the first two in the world to get the certification.
Since Morrison, Blackburn and other business leaders came together, in working through the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised and committed to install the Leader In Me program in every school in the Vicksburg Warren School District; a district that now features four Lighthouse Schools; Bowmar and Bovina Elementary Schools, Academy of Innovation and now River City Early College High School.

“It has been an incredible return on investment. That is what’s happening right now. It is paying off today,” Blackburn said. “That is the reason we chose this program when we first decided on what we wanted to do to help our schools. We didn’t want to get into the academic business, where we were going into the classroom telling you what to do with the curriculum. All of us wanted to build that character, that goal setting, that accountability; those are life skills and incorporated into the culture of the school. That is what this is. It’s a culture.”

“All we did was plant a seed. That’s what we did now nine years ago,” Blackburn continued. “And look at what it has grown into.”

The commitment by a few nine years ago has grown into something spectacular and life-changing for an entire generation of children in Vicksburg and Warren County.

While Friday was a celebration for River City Early College High School’s students and administrators reaching a lofty goal, it was also yet another positive milestone on a journey started nine years ago by a dedicated few.
In fact, they did plant a seed that has grown, is growing and is taking our community — our entire community — to new heights.