Explosion of Excellence 2020

Explosion of Excellence 2020

Explosion of Excellence 2020Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau

Posted by Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Mississippi on Tuesday, May 5, 2020

While graduating seniors in Jackson County are facing an unconventional conclusion to their high school careers, one tradition is being kept alive that provides scholarships to nearly 180 students.

The 30th annual Explosion of Excellence scholarship ceremony was held Tuesday evening in a brand new format for the program. The entire event was live-streamed on the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page.

Explosion of Excellence is an effort to provide scholarship funds to the top ten percent of students from each high school in Jackson County. Pat Descher, of the McDonald’s Descher Organization, started the program 30 years ago with the dream of encouraging high school students to go to college and come back to Jackson County to live and work.

179 students each received a $250 book scholarship this year. Out of that 179 students, 20 of them were randomly drawn to receive an additional $1000 scholarship each.

Please find the full list of scholarship recipients below, as well as this year’s contributors.


Congratulations to the Explosion of Excellence Class of 2020


William Alexander                 Anderson

Natalie Rayne                         Baxter *

Lauren Quinn                          Brown

Sydni Lyn                                  Burroughs

Stacy Rene                               Crawford

Yamiliz Yari                               Felicie-Robles *

Ashlyn Paige                            Hinton

Chesie Elyse                            Killen

Garrett Michael                     Knotts

Tori Elizabeth                          Loper

Kiley Elizabeth                        Martin

Sarah Lauren                           Rice

Rylee Caroline                        Sharpton

Madison Brooke                    Strickler

Sallie Amanda                         Warren

Sarah Elisabeth                       Warren

Secora Faye                             Webb



Perla                                           Arellano

Fernando                                  Arellano

Laney                                         BIrchfield

Summer                                    Dillion

Abbigail                                     Finn

Jarrod                                         Gingell

Marcus                                      High

Shandrika                                 Jefferson *

Madison                                    Lavinghouse

Kathryn                                     McArthur *

Michael                                     McCusker

Alexander                                McNair

Justin                                          Miller

Allison                                        Miranda-Pagan

Hayden                                      Mitchell

Eriel                                             Odom

Kyle                                             Rondy

Cailin                                           Salisbury

Shantel                                      Simmons *

Jenna                                         Sutherland

Victoria                                      Taylor *

Kerstin                                       Tuck

Nicholas                                    Weir



Rachel                                        Clarke

Jaiden                                        Downs

Alani                                           Gildersleeve

Kristen                                       Gonzalez

Kanecia                                      Holmes

Robyn                                        Lee

Caleb                                          Lett

Carley                                         McGrath

Ninoshka                                  Munoz Deleon *

Nakiya                                        Owens

Kirsten                                       Tait

Wil’Lisha                                    Trevillion

Robyn                                        White



Trenton                             Arocho

Chase                               Black

Mitchell                             Bowie *

Amelia                              Carmichael

Maggie                             Conner

Jordyn                              Cook

Rebecca Tatum                 Cooper

Harold “Todd”                    Coulter

Alise                                 Crabtree

Isabella                             Furr

Kirsten                              Glass

Kaylee                              Goodwin

Sujung                              Ham

Isabela                              Healy

Natalie                              Hodge

Williams                            Kaylee

Erin                                  Kilpatrick

Caroline                            Leonard

Emilee                              Ly

Kenneth                            Mack

Linda                                Marcano

Gillian                               May

Jackson                            McArthur

Kaitlyn                              McDonald

Lillian                                Ming

Hanna                               Mitchell *

Dessommes                     Natalie

Chloe                                Nguyen

Blake                                Noblin

Ivy                                    Oberkirch *

Ashlyn                              Page

Danielle                            Pasquini

Areesha                            Razi

Mary                                 Samblis

Kaekoa                             Siangco

Naya                                 Slusher

Hannah                             Smith

Shaw                                St. Amant *

Campa                              Steven *

Matthew                            Strunk

Lexi                                  Tufo

Abigail                              Victory

Aydin                                Virga

Cole                                 Whiteside

Alexander                         Whyte

Ashley                              Williams

Parker                               Winders



Alexsandra                               Gonzalez

Alondra                                     Reyes

Carlos                                         Rivera-Martinez

Cecily                                          Johnson

Clarissa                                      Sanders *

Ella                                               Pitts

Emily                                           Bowlin

Hannah                                      Ladner

Jadelynn                                   Rudolf

Joshua                                       Hawthorne

Kailey                                         Hunter

Keishliane                                 Reyes

Keleri                                          Chasteen *

Kennedy                                   Turner

Kylee                                          Hill

Lakyia                                         Norwood

Landan                                       Northrop

Madison                                    Brown

Morgan                                     Madison

Percy                                          Barberena

Raisa                                           Harris

Sydney                                      Triplett

Taylor                                         Smith

Trinity                                         McJimson

William                                       Watson



Kacha                                         Coleman

Jameson                                   Cook

Meghan                                    Denmark *

Sarah                                          Hults

Wyatt                                         Slonneger



Scott                                           Beebe

Kailey                                         Bosarge

Tara                                             Bradley *

Kamryn                                      Carcich

Amya                                          Douglas

Lanie                                           Forehand

Maya                                          Geissinger

Maygan                                     Glover

Sophia                                        Incer *

Rafal                                           Jakubowicz

Anabelle                                   Lang

Victoria                                      Lee

Kyla                                             Lowery

Dustin                                        Lucky

Vivian                                         Ly *

Ashlyn                                        McDaniel

Sydney                                      Mitchell

Lillian                                          Nguyen

Dana                                           Pham

ThuyAn                                      Pham

Regina                                        Phan

Michael                                     Ressel

Desiree                                      Rodriguez

McKinzie                                   Rodriguez

Skylar                                         Ross

Erin                                              Schreck

Aavriel                                       Smith

Victor                                         Thorne *

Caroline                                     Tran

Delaney                                     Ware

Gwyneth                                  Weber

Kristina                                      White

Kimberlyn                                 Williams



Adrienne                                  Beckstein

Madison                                    Ely

Gerald                                        Harringtion

Seth                                            Hebert

Miranda                                    Hines *

Luke                                            Langlinais

Angelita                                     Micele

Zackary                                      Mitchell

Matthew                                  Mixon

Jade                                            Owen

Autumn                                     Pierce

Sydney                                      Salter

Elizabeth                                   Smith

Cheyenne                                Strickland

Jeb                                              Wells

Abigail                                        Wickham


* $1000 drawing recipient


Thank you to this year’s Explosion of Excellence contributors

ASB Marketing, LLC in memory of Jim Brooks

Baber Strunk Enterprises

Bienville Animal Medical Center

Bryan, Nelson, Schroeder, Castigliola & Banahan

C Spire


Children and Grandchildren of Billie and Zelma Lofton in memory of Billie and Zelma Lofton   

Cmsgt. Lloyd W. & Ann Hegwood, USAF Retired

Community Connections JC Chapter

Descher, William H.

Dr. Charles and Amy Wilson

Duchess Club of Ocean Springs

East Central High School

Eight D Enterprises, Inc. – DBA McDonald’s

Family Dental Care

Fifteen D Enterprise, Inc. DBA McDonald’s

First Chemical Corporation

First Federal

Foster’s Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc.

Friendship Civic Club of Ocean Springs

Gayle T. Roberts

Hacienda San Miguel

Hargrove Engineers + Constructors

Hayden and Sandy Dent

Heidelberg Steinberger, P.A.

Home Town Lumber & Supply, Inc.

Ingalls Shipbuilding

Jackson County AARP Chapter 1213

Jackson County Board of Supervisors

Jackson County Commercial Properties, LLC

Jackson County Utility Authority

Jana Wamsley Memorial Scholarship in memory of Jana Wamsley

Jerry and Joann St. Pe’

Jerry Lee’s Grocery No. 1

Junior Auxiliary of Pascagoula-Moss Point

Keesler Federal Credit Union

Lee Tracy / Accent Foot Fashions OS, LLC in memory of Kyle Todd

Merchants & Marine Bank

Mike and Bettie Concannon in memory of Melinda Mitchell

Mississippi Export Railroad Company

Mississippi Eye Associates

Mississippi Power

Moss Point Rotary Club

Nine D Enterprises, Inc. DBA McDonalds

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.

Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce

Omega Protein, Inc.

Paige Roberts in honor of Jim, Anita, & Kaya Brooks  

Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association

Propeller Club of Pascagoula

Retired Education Personnel of Jackson County

Robert and Vivian Barr in memory of Patsie Meyer & Claire Kershaw

Rotary Club of Pascagoula

Sarah and William Finnicum

Singing River Electric Cooperative

St. Martin High School

Tuesday Night Bridge Club

United Way of Jackson & George Counties in memory of Jim Brooks

Virginia Montgomery

VT Halter Marine, Inc.

Wells Fargo

Zonta Club of Pascagoula



MGCCC fine arts instructors receive grant for Arts-in-Motion project

The Mississippi Arts Commission has awarded a $14,440 project grant to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College fine arts instructors Sandra Cassibry, Brandon Ring, Aaron Mann and Britney Patten for the Arts-in-Motion collaborative project.  Project partners include MGCCC’s Perkinston Campus Fine Arts Department, Perkinston Elementary, Stone County Arts Council and The Yellow Brick Project.  The grant is provided in part through the National Endowment for the Arts.

Project goals include strengthening MGCCC’s art-based programs, specifically music, through the partnership and programming with local artists; to enhance and utilize local art resources, such as The Community Arts Center, MGCCC Fine Arts Department, the Yellow Brick Project and The Arts Trail more effectively; and to demonstrate the importance and involve students (elementary school, college and community) in a quality arts programming with local artists.

“Presently, Perkinston Elementary School does not offer music or arts classes,” said Sandra Cassibry, visual arts instructor at MGCCC’s Perkinston Campus.  “They do not have a certified arts specialist in their school. These students are our future artists and patrons. Without instruction, how can they appreciate or value the importance of art and artists?”

Cassibry said that a discussion between school administration and the college’s Fine Arts Department started several months ago, leading to the grant proposal.  “The solution to the school’s problem is really just a block away,” she said. “MGCCC, the Stone County Arts Council (SCAC) and Community Arts Center are located within walking distance of the elementary school. MGCCC has a strong fine arts program, and SCAC has received state/national recognition for visual arts through The Mural Project, storytelling with The Telling Trees and arts integration with the “A to Z” children’s books. There have been various successful visual arts and theatre/storytelling projects implemented in the community. Now, we would like to expand our community art program offerings to include music instruction and expand the resources already available to school children.”

Brandon Ring, Fine Arts Department chair and music instructor at the Perkinston Campus, said the funding will allow them to expand the arts programming and offer music lessons in the Community Arts Center. Additionally, the Arts Trail will provide safe access to the college and the Community Arts Center and provide a space for outdoor lessons, events and/or performances for students at Perkinston Elementary.  The Perkinston Campus Fine Arts Auditorium will also provide for larger performances at the end of fall and spring semesters. “Our hope is that these performances will help generate donations and revenue that would help sustain future artists-in-residency programs, scholarships and arts programming,” he said. “Funding would also be utilized to help with cost of music, art supplies, materials, costumes, travel, professional development and advertising of events. Purchases of items in local businesses would help promote a creative culture and economy.”

Ring added that arts are an essential part of education and the community.  “This project will help our community create an awareness of the arts, strengthen arts partnerships, emphasize the importance of music and utilize our resources more effectively,” he said. “It will showcase our future artists, the importance of arts education and our existing community arts assets. We hope that one day we will be recognized as an arts destination, an epicenter of arts celebrating this place that we call home.”

New Date for Jackson County Industrial Trade Show

We have new dates for the Jackson County Industrial Trade Show! Right now, we’re looking at October 5th and 6th. October 5th would be setup and crawfish boil, October 6thwould be the ribbon cutting and the trade show. We will still be at the Jackson County Civic Center. This email is going to a list of people who have either been vendors in the past, were registered for this year, or are prospective vendors. So, those who were already registered will keep your spots. If any of you who were registered cannot make this date then we will open up your spots for others. So please respond to this email with your plans. If you weren’t registered and are now able to or are now interested, indicate that as well and we will try to work with you.


Gautier Loosens Restrictions on Number of Customers Allowed in Stores at Once

The Gautier City Council on Tuesday voted to loosen its restrictions on the number of customers that will be allowed inside local stores at one time. City leaders voted to amend the City’s COVID-19 order adopted on April 1.

The section pertaining to businesses and establishments having a large customer base was revised to permit 100 customers at one time in stores of 100,000 square feet or larger, 75 customers at one time in stores between 25,000 and 99,999 square feet, 50 customers at one time in stores between 14,000 and 24,999 square feet, and 20 customers at one time in stores under 14,000 square feet.

In addition, all non-essential businesses shall continue to follow the executive orders of Gov. Tate Reeves and shall be permitted to operate if and when the governor removes or amends those orders.

All other provisions of the order will remain in place until such time as the local emergency ceases or this order is revisited by the Gautier City Council.