PRC Partners in Leadership holds graduation

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 7, 2016

2016 GRADUATES: From left are Sharon Guepet, Veronica Causey, Monet Kees, Joann Graham, Laurie Langlois, Michelle Berdux, Monshell Clemmons, Missy Holston and Dawn Lambert.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

2016 GRADUATES: From left are Sharon Guepet, Veronica Causey, Monet Kees, Joann Graham, Laurie Langlois, Michelle Berdux, Monshell Clemmons, Missy Holston and Dawn Lambert.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Friday, Pearl River County Partners in Leaders hosted a graduation ceremony at First Baptist Church in Picayune.
This year’s class included nine graduates, all female, which was a first for the group. Since the program’s inception, 200 people have completed the program.
The first group to present their project included Michelle Berdux, Sharon Guepet and Laurie Langlois who spoke about the Crosby Arboretum Butterfly Garden.
The existing children’s garden was in a state of disarray, Langlois said.
“We were redoing it to make a butterfly pollinator garden,” Langlois said. “We all had an interest in butterflies and knew how educational they are for kids and adults.”
Group members cleaned the existing garden and Crosby Arboretum grounds manager Terry Johnson laid the beds. Once that was done, group members added fresh soil, peat moss, pine bark and cow manure, Langlois said.
The 5,000 square-foot garden will feature information about the food caterpillars and butterflies eat. They also planted about 300 flowers that will attract butterflies to the area. Plants were donated by Mississippi State University, the Arboretum and the Mississippi State Master Gardener Association.
The second group presented “Work Hard, Play Hard.”
Dawn Lambert and Missy Holston realized the playground equipment at Pearl River Central Lower Elementary is aged and lacking a few key components.
“There are 700 students in that school and play is crucial to a child’s development,” Lambert said. “We want to raise money to build an inclusive playground, which will also include equipment for students with special needs.”
The pair wrote grants to KaBoom, the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, Mississippi Department of Education and Blue Cross Blue Shield, Lambert said.
The LPRVF gave $15,000 to the project and they also received an MDE grant, Lambert said. They also sent letters of donation to community members, hosted a pancake fundraiser and hosted a photo booth during the lower elementary’s spring dance. The total cost of the playground is about $64,000. Lambert and Holston raised about half that amount.
“When the time comes to build it, we will host a community build,” Lambert said.
For more information about donating to the playground project, contact Lambert at or 601-798-2987. Contact Holston at or 601-798-7744.
The third group, comprised of Veronica Causey, Monshell Clemmons, Joann Graham and Monet Kees, presented their project, a community career fair.
On Feb. 20, the group hosted a countywide career fair at Pearl River Central High School, Clemmons said. They invited different companies in Pearl River County including John C. Stennis Space Center, the Naval Oceanographic office, car dealerships, the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department and insurance agents.
“The fair was open to youth and adults seeking internships or jobs,” she said. “We want to try and get more students to stay in our area. After they graduate from high school or college, they leave. We wanted to show that we do have good businesses and career opportunities in Pearl River County.”
Team members made flyers for the event and contacted local media outlets to advertise the event. They hope to make it an annual occurrence held at different locations throughout the county. For more information contact group members at
Mississippi’s Fourth Congressional District Congressman Steven Palazzo was the guest speaker for the graduation and spoke about the importance of leaders.
He encouraged graduates to motivate those with negative thoughts to think more positively.
The Glade Woods Leadership Award was presented to Michelle Berdux.
According to program literature, the group is designed to primarily meet the needs of Pearl River County, including the cities of Poplarville and Picayune. Their mission is to achieve these goals through training, enhanced communication, community involvement and personal commitment. The program begins every August and group members meet once a month to discuss different themes. Themes include leadership, education, economic and government development, health and social services, environment, history, arts and law enforcement.
The class is open to citizens who live or work in Pearl River County. PRC Partners in Leadership is located at 309 N. Main St. in Picayune. For more information call 601-590-2130 or send an email to Visit the website at

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