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© 1998 The Sun Herald.


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Alcorn State, other schools to participate in teacher program, picnic

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

JACKSON - The Mississippi Teacher Center is sending an entourage to the Mississippi Picnic in Central Park.

"Celebrating 150 Years of Higher Education in Mississippi" is the theme for the June 13 event held annually for New Yorkers with ties to the Magnolia State.

Representatives will give out information on scholarships, home loans and other incentives designed to encourage prospective and current teachers to work in areas where teachers are particularly hard to find, said Judy Beaird, an official with the Department of Education Teacher Center based in Jackson.

In addition to the recruiting efforts by education representatives, there will be entertainment, special events, food and speakers.

The event recognizes all eight public colleges in Mississippi, which began to take root in the state with the Nov. 6, 1848, opening of the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

A 10-foot wall of images featuring 150 years of higher education in Mississippi and sponsored by BellSouth will be on display.

Among the lineup is the 11-member University of Southern Mississippi Los Gavilanes Mariachi Band, all musicians in the USM Symphony Orchestra.

"They are wonderfully diverse," USM President Horace Fleming said of the band, which includes nine members from Latin America and two trumpeters from the United States. "Their music is so spirited and lively. It adds a new dimension to the university."

Other performers include:

April Smith, a May education graduate of Alcorn State University and recipient of the ASU Foundation Inc. Award for Excellence. She will present a melody of gospel and patriotic tunes.

Chalie Carrol Ray, a former Miss Mississippi and a professional model, will represent Delta State University. She also will sing.

The Jackson State University Jazz Combo, composed of music majors and nonmajors from across the country. They will perform contemporary jazz tunes.

Theater performers from Mississippi University for Women will present live characters from MUW theater productions of the past.

The Spirit of Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi's premier vocal jazz ensemble, will perform a melody of all-time favorite pop and jazz songs.

"They are talented people who are excellent representatives of students studying today at Mississippi universities," Higher Education Commissioner Thomas Layzell said of the performers.

Scattered among the picnic spreads will be games and contests. Typical events have included watermelon-seed spitting, best fried chicken, tastiest Southern dessert, fanciest hat and most creative grits sculpture. Live musical entertainment has included rock, country, zydeco, classical, blues and jazz.