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Head Start celebrates 50 years

The children at Picayune’s Head Start performed a medley of songs at the center’s commemoration of the 50 years of Head Start in the United States. They placed their hands over their hearts as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

The children at Picayune’s Head Start performed a medley of songs at the center’s commemoration of the 50 years of Head Start in the United States. They placed their hands over their hearts as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Photo by Cassandra Favre


On Friday, parents, educators and students gathered for a celebration at Picayune’s Head Start Center to acknowledge 50 years of Head Start in the United States.
The Picayune center is under the umbrella of Mississippi Action For Progress, Inc.
According to the website, MAP is a community-based child development and family services program primarily for preschool children of low income families.
The Picayune center is located in region one which includes Perry and Hancock counties.
The program began with musical numbers by the children along with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Guest speakers included former early childhood educators, Sullivan Bell, Helen Crawford and Dorothy Ellis.
During the event, Bell recited a brief history of early childcare in South Mississippi.
Crawford has been working in childcare for more than 45 years and recalled when she first started.
“In the early days, we worked in churches,” Crawford said. “People donated food and other items for our schools. As long as parents and educators work together, Head Start has a better future.”
Ellis also began her career in a church. She recalled volunteering and later being hired on as a teacher’s aide.
John Guy is the regional administrator and supplied a brief history of Head Start’s beginning in 1965.
“On May 18,1965 President Lyndon Johnson announced Project Head Start and gave the go-ahead to enroll 100,000 children in the first programs,” Guy said. “By the end of the summer, there were more than 560,000 enrolled.”
Guy said that Early Head Start programs are closing the gap between high and low-income families. Children are entering schools ready to meet challenges, he said.
This year the center implemented a creative curriculum, Guy said.
“It is common core based, which the children will be studying when they enter kindergarten,” Guy said. “We encourage our parents to participate in their child’s education. With common core, the parents assume the majority of responsibility.”
The Picayune Head Start Center is located at 1220 Hwy. 11 S. and provides services to children aged three to four-years-old. The center currently has 592 preschoolers enrolled.
Contact their office by phone at 601-799-1716.
Learn more about MAP at www.mapheadstart.org.