Celebrating the Top Ten Percent at the Explosion of Excellence

The Explosion of Excellence Scholarship Program honored 179 students from Jackson County at the 29th annual scholarship program at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on May 7th.  Each student received a $250 Student Scholarship, and $1,000 scholarships were randomly drawn for 30 students.  This program honors the academic achievements of the graduating high school seniors who are in the top ten percent of their classes in all area high schools in Jackson County (including the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science).

This year’s 29th Annual Explosion of Excellence Keynote Speaker was Claire Louder, IOM, CAE, MPP. The Master of Ceremonies was Paige Roberts, incoming President & CEO of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.  There was a welcome from Cedrick Hurd (Chairman of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors), Ken Taylor (President of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors) and Dr. Tammy Franks (Vice President of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Jackson County Campus).  A surprise gift presentation was made by Dr. Mary Graham (President of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) in honor of Pat Descher (Owner of McDonald’s Descher Organization), the Chairman of the Explosion of Excellence and “mother” of the program. The scholarships were presented by Pat Descher and Dr. Bill Descher (Co-Chairman of the Explosion of Excellence).

Each year the public is encouraged to consider a $250, $1,000 or $5,000 scholarship—all of which are 100 percent tax deductible.  These scholarships are donated by the public to encourage these students to consider employment in Jackson County when their education is finished.  The scholarships can be made in memory or in honor of someone, in the name of a company or individual or left anonymous.  The public can help honor these students by writing a check to the “Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Explosion of Excellence” and mailing it to “Explosion of Excellence, Post Office Box 480, Pascagoula, MS  39568-0480.”

The following contributors made this program possible, for a total of $74,750:

AARP Chapter 1213 (Jackson County Chapter #1213)

Allred Stolarski Architects


Ashbaker, Mary – In Honor of Descher Families

Aztecas Restaurant & Cantina

Bacot-McCarty Foundation

Barnes, Geraldine – In Memory of Glennis “Nick” Barnes & Maxine Barnes McLaughlin & Shirley H. Barnes & Ephraim Barnes

Barr, Robert and Vivian – In Memory of Wallace W. Barr

Beau Rivage – MGM Resorts International

Bienville Animal Medical Center

Blevins, Jim & Michele

BPD Enterprises, Inc. McDonald’s #11669

Bryan, Nelson, Schroeder, Castigliola & Banahan, PLLC

Celarec, Barbara – In Honor of Michael Celarec and In Memory of Gretchen Duescher


Community Bank

Compton Engineering, Inc.

Concannon, Mike and Bettie – In Memory of Melinda Mitchell

Cumbest Plumbing, LLC

Dent, Hayden and Sandy

Dr. Bill Descher

Duchess Club of Ocean Springs

Duchess De Chaumont Chapter No. 3-019 MS

East Central High School

Edward Jones – Lisa Cannon

Empress Audio, Inc. – In Memory of Viola Seal

Estabrook Ford Lincoln Nissan

Estabrook Toyota

Explosion of Excellence Scholarship Raffle

First Federal Savings & Loan

Fontaine, Jo Anne – In Memory of Doug Fontaine, II

Fortnightly Club

Foster Brimm Consulting

Foster’s Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc.

Gautier High School

Gautier Rotary Club

Hacienda San Miguel: House of Tequila

Hargrove Engineers + Constructors

Hard Rock Casino

Heidelberg Steinberger, P.A.

Home Builders Association of the Mississippi Coast

Home Town Lumber & Supply, Inc.

Ingalls Shipbuilding

Jackson County Board of Supervisors

Jackson County Chamber of Commerce – In Memory of Kyle Todd

Jackson County Utility Authority

Jana Walmsley Memorial Scholarship – In Memory of Jana Walmsley

Jerry Lee’s Grocery No. 1

Junior Auxiliary of Pascagoula-Moss Point

Keesler Federal Credit Union

L.L. Bond & Company, Inc.

Lee Tracy – In Memory of Kyle Todd

Lokring Gulf Coast, LLC

Mangum, Mike and Joy

McDonald’s #7416

McDonald’s Descher Organization

Merchants & Marine Bank

Mississippi Export Railroad

Mississippi Eye Associates

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Foundation

Mississippi Power Community Connections

Mississippi Power

Moss Point Rotary Club – In Honor of Harry McDonald and In Memory of John Welch

Navigator Credit Union Bobbie Lochridge Scholarship

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.

Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau

Pascagoula Bar Pilots’ Association

Pascagoula-Gautier School District Educators

PJ/Ken Baker Open Charity Golf Tournament – In Memory of Ken Baker

Propeller Club of Pascagoula, Mississippi, Inc.

Pugh Associates, LLC – In Memory of Gayla Stroble

Regional Digestive Specialists, P.C.

Retired Education Personnel of Jackson County

Retired Education Personnel of Jackson County – In Memory of Mary Ellen Beldon

Retired Education Personnel of Jackson County – In Memory of Sonya Edmonds

Rotary Club of Pascagoula

Scranton’s Catering

Singing River Electric Cooperative

Singing River Federal Credit Union

St. Andrews Bridge Club

St. Martin High School

Storey, Georgia and David

St. Paul United Methodist Church

St. Pé, Jerry and Joann

Susan Stachowski – In Memory of Kevin Stachowski, Sr.

Tasha Terral – In Honor of Nina Terral

The Blossman Companies, Inc.

The First – A National Banking Association

The Peoples Bank

United Way for Jackson & George Counties

Walmart Store #1066 Pascagoula

Waste Pro

Wells Fargo Foundation

Wilson, Dr. Charles & Amy

Young Men’s Business Club of Moss Point

Zonta Club of Pascagoula

The Explosion of Excellence is a program jointly sponsored by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and all high schools in Jackson County. It is a fund of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

To answer any questions, please call the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce at 228-762-3391 or email Valerie Dedeaux, Administrative Assistant, at Chamber@jcchamber.com. More information can be found online at www.jcchamber.com.

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