Prince honors NeMiss youth in ceremony

By M. Scott Morris
Daily Journal

JACKSON – Northeast Mississippi students earned congratulations from royalty during a ceremony at the Mississippi Museum of Art on Friday.

About 90 students from Oxford, Lafayette and Water Valley high schools earned medals as part of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Young Americans' Challenge. More than 30 of the medalists attended the ceremony, where they received their awards from His Royal Highness, The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

“Today is all about your achievement,” the prince said. “We wouldn't be here otherwise.”

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award operates in more than 120 countries. It was started by Prince Edward's father 52 years ago. Participants submit their own goals, including academics, physical fitness and community service.

“It's very much about developing leadership skills,” he said. “It's very much about helping others.”

The award came to the United States two years ago, after the prince asked Amory native Sam Haskell III to serve as president of the American version.

“This is only the second state in the country to give the award,” said Haskell, who's known the prince for 14 years.

California was the first, and Haskell said he’s been contacted by organizations in Maryland, Georgia, Texas, Alaska, Florida and Virginia. Haskell also is chairman of the Miss America Organization, which will link with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and make it a nationwide program.

The awards ceremony included Gov. Haley Barbour and first lady Marsha Barbour, former Sen. Trent Lott and Gloria Kellum, vice chancellor of the University of Mississippi, as well as others who helped get the award started in Mississippi.

“It means so much to me that all of you have been so supportive of this dream of mine,” Haskell said.
Gov. Barbour, Lott and Prince Edward all mentioned how difficult it is to tell Haskell “no,” but the prince said he enjoyed the opportunity to turn the tables and asked Haskell to do something that he couldn't say “no” to.

In addition to the new medalists, there were at least two other award winners present. Prince Edward was one; he received his gold medal from his father, Prince Philip.

Albert Bisson, who teaches in the philosophy and religion department at Mississippi State University, received his medal from Prince Philip during a ceremony in Liverpool more than three decades ago.

“I was in the Boy's Brigade, similar to the Boy Scouts,” Bisson said, “I remember the prince flying in on a helicopter, and he piloted the helicopter. It was a big day.”

Duke of Edinburgh’s Young American’s Challenge 2007-2008

Lafayette High School Participants:

Adam Pugh, Principal, Lead Coordinator of the
International Award

Marvin Pearson, Guidance Counselor , Section Leader

Debbie Hewlett, Guidance Counselor, Section Leader

Ben Mikell, English, Section Leader

Maygan Grubbs

Lindly Booth

Katelyn Conner

Mollie Kate McPhail

Lindsey Wall

Mallory Daniels

Emily Morrison

Angela McOwen

Caleb Herod

Myla Jerrnigan

Courtney Coleston

Chris Gullick

Heath Conner

Paden Patterson

Blake Rikard

Megan McClusky

Serina Buffington

Derik Wood

Willie Booker

Shelby Briscoe

Christy Caldwell

Yureka Hoskins

Anthony Hudson

Jordan Littlejohn

Ordavion McChristian

Hardy McGonagill

Jeremy McThume

Devin Slate

Megan Wallace

Presley Weaver

Oxford High School Participants:

Cynthia Ferguson, Journalism, Lead Coordinator of the International Award

Bradley Roberson, Section Coordinator

Kim Austin, Section Coordinator

Caroline Fair, Section Coordinator

Thomas Herrington, Section Coordinator

Kacie Crowe

Laura Lehner

Chelsey Overstreet

Mary Grace Turner

Deanna Walker

Elizabeth Fowlkes

Charlie Alonzo

Danielle Smith

Natalie Wood

Jeremiah Brown

Britni Wollaston

Phillip Malatesta

Anthony Bell

Charley Sullivan

Blane Sellers

Hunt Halford

Nick Bailey

CJ Jenkins

Derrick Shawn

John Rodes Martin

Brandon Blake

Stuart York

Barton Hudson

Jim Barrett

Matt VanSlyke

Curt Presley

Matthew Shaw

Ben Ruscoe

Taylor McGraw

Riley Saunders

Julie Atchley

Poinesha Barnes

Will Huntington

Vidisha Jaisual

Karis Buchanan

Meg Huntington

Water Valley High School Bronze Award Participants:

Anna Koshenina, Lead Coordinator

Mario Weekly, Section Coordinator

Steve Ford, Section Coordinator

JoAnn King, Section Coordinator

Shanquayle Jenkins

Tim Taylor

Drew Pratt

Hunter Edwards

Dillon LaCook

Torrey Horton

Dillon Dicky

Santana Hervey

Quita Woodard

Lizzy Shawk

Jennifer Chapman

Shelby Herndandez

Adrian Tallent

Yosheka Conard

Rashida Rogers

Aggie Bethel

Daimion Pollard

Derron Hairston

J.D. Fondon

Tyler Jones

Michael Phillips

Jillian Harris

Ryan Bain